Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
We’ve got some key injury situations in the NFC South that are worth watching as the weekend gets closer.
Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Bryant did not participate in practice because of a knee injury. Bryant had surgery in the preseason, but appeared to make a successful return in the season opener. This one is potentially troubling for the Bucs, who aren’t loaded with experience at wide receiver. If Bryant can’t play Sunday at Buffalo, rookie Sammie Stroughter or Maurice Stovall likely would get the start.
In Carolina, right tackle Jeff Otah was held out of practice with a shoulder injury. If Otah is unable to play, Carolina’s loss of veteran depth (Frank Omiyale, Jeremy Bridges and Geoff Hangartner) could catch up to the Panthers. Carolina has a pair of unproven backups in Garry Williams and Geoff Schwartz.
Defensive tackle Nick Hayden missed his second day of practice with a toe injury. Hayden had taken over as a starter when Maake Kemoeatu went down on the first day of training camp with a season-ending injury. If Hayden can’t play, the Panthers have only Ra’Shon Harris and Louis Leonard, who both were added late in the preseason, as backups. Think you might see Atlanta’s Michael Turner headed for the middle of Carolina’s defense a few times on Sunday.
Things are more positive in New Orleans, where running back Pierre Thomas returned to practice after sitting out Sunday. The only issue here is how that will impact the rotation at running back with Thomas joining Mike Bell and Reggie Bush.
Atlanta fans, relax at the moment. The Falcons had all 53 players participate in practice Thursday.