A look at the top Saturday morning headlines from around the division:
Defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and wide receiver Michael Calvin stood out in Atlanta’s scrimmage Friday night. Sidbury’s performance should be particularly encouraging for Atlanta fans. He had two sacks while lining up at defensive end at times and as a hybrid linebacker at other times. The Falcons also had some of their other defensive ends standing up at times. That’s a wrinkle being added by new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan as he tries to get more production from the pass rush. Calvin had a couple of nice catches, but they came against backup defenders. Still, the performance could help Calvin as he tries to earn a roster spot or at least convince the Falcons to keep him around on the practice squad.
The Falcons signed defensive tackle Conrad Obi on Friday night. They needed to add some temporary depth at the position as Corey Peters and Vance Walker have been missing time with injuries. Obi went to high school in the Atlanta area and played his college ball at Colorado. He originally signed with Arizona as an undrafted free agent just after this year’s draft, but was released.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The latest legal moves in the Saints’ bounty drama have the NFL asking a court to dismiss Jonathan Vilma’s attempt to have his season-long suspension overturned. The league says its collective bargaining agreement gives commissioner Roger Goodell the right to suspend players. The NFL Players Association is asking for the suspensions to be vacated and a neutral arbitrator to be appointed.
New Orleans receiver Joe Morgan, who had been making some plays early in camp, had a tough day Friday as he dropped a couple of passes. But Andy Tanner and Adrian Arrington, who are competing with Morgan for jobs as backup receivers, each made big plays in Friday’s practice.
New Orleans starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson and rookie receiver Nick Toon will sit out Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game due to injuries.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay cornerback Myron Lewis had a flashy hit on De’Anthony Curtis that left the running back briefly on the ground before getting up very slowly. This is notable because Lewis isn’t known as a big hitter. But don’t get too excited about this one. The play more or less ran directly into Lewis and he merely reacted. It also came at a time when the defense wasn’t supposed to be tackling.
Tampa Bay rookie safety Mark Barron has been getting some tips from veteran Ronde Barber. That’s great because Barber is the most experienced player on the roster and he knows quite a bit about secondary play. But this is a two-way street. Barber, who is making the transition from cornerback to safety, also is tapping Barron’s knowledge of the finer points of safety play.
The Bucs will hold a night practice Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. The session is open to the public and there is no charge for admission or parking.
Safety Haruki Nakamura spent the past four seasons as Ed Reed’s backup in Baltimore. He also knows a thing or two about winning because the Ravens did a lot of it in his time with the team. But Nakamura might have a chance to be more than just a backup with the Panthers. He’s competing with Sherrod Martin for a starting job.
The Panthers also will be working out in their own house Saturday. They’ll be practicing at Bank of America Stadium and the session is open to the public.