NFC South quick hits

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- I’ve been tied up a good bit of the day, meeting with general manager Marty Hurney, coach Ron Rivera, tackle Jordan Gross and center Ryan Kalil as I work on the Camp Confidential for the Carolina Panthers that will be running in a few days.

So let’s turn to the headlines to catch up on the latest from all around the NFC South:

  • An NFL spokesperson has denied a report that New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been given an offer that would reduce his suspension from the full season to eight games in exchange for dropping his defamation suit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The league official said the NFL will continue to respect court proceedings. A federal judge is expected to rule no later than Friday on a request by Vilma for an injunction to stop his suspension. For now, all I can say is, stay tuned.

  • Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman sounds very excited to be working with new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Freeman should be excited. Sullivan’s the guy that was brought in to resurrect his career.

  • Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said left tackle Donald Penn is making progress as he works to recover from a calf injury. But Penn still isn’t practicing, so I doubt the Bucs will leave Freeman out there too long in the first preseason game with Demar Dotson protecting his blind side.

  • As part of their press release for their first preseason game, the Falcons included an unofficial depth chart. During the preseason, depth charts usually are assembled by the public relations staff, but sometimes include some input from the coaching staff. In general terms, when there is competition at a position, the depth chart usually errs on the side of caution and favors veterans. That rings true at some positions for the Falcons – Garrett Reynolds is ahead of rookie Peter Konz at right guard and Dunta Robinson is ahead of newly-acquired cornerback Asante Samuel. I think we could see an eventual switch at right guard, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Robinson remains the starter, but simply slides inside when Robinson comes into the lineup in nickel situations. But the depth chart also lists Peria Jerry ahead of Corey Peters at defensive tackle. Peters has been sidelined by an injury. But, assuming Peters gets healthy, I’d be shocked if Jerry remains ahead of him when the regular season begins.

  • Running back Jonathan Stewart reportedly is the most followed Carolina player on Twitter. Yep, he even ranks ahead of quarterback Cam Newton, who easily is the highest-profile athlete to ever play for any Charlotte team. But I’m even more surprised Stewart has a bigger following than equipment manager Jackie Miles, the most social Charlotte citizen ever.