Let's take a look at the headlines from around the NFC South:
The cause and nature of the foot injury that is sidelining defensive tackle Corey Peters for the first six games remain mysteries. The Falcons have been very guarded about Peters’ situation. But they’ve had the inside information on it for some time and the fact they haven’t gone out and brought in an alternative must mean they feel good about what they have seen out of Peria Jerry. A first-round draft pick in 2009, Jerry’s career has been limited by injuries. But he’s looked good throughout training camp and the preseason.
Speaking of the Falcons and their tendency to stay quiet on injuries, coach Mike Smith now is admitting defensive end Ray Edwards was dealing with more serious injury issues than the public knew about last season. All indications are that Edwards is healthy now. If that’s the case, that could be a big boost for the Atlanta pass rush. Edwards never really made an impact in that area last season, but the Falcons signed him to complement John Abraham and believe he can fill that role now that he’s healthy.
With the Democratic National Convention coming to Charlotte and Bank of America Stadium, the Panthers are hitting the road. They’re leaving their stadium and practice facility to the politicians and all the accompanying logistical issues to head to Florida. They open their season Sept. 9 at Tampa Bay. The team will leave next Tuesday and settle into IMG Academies in Bradenton, where they’ll practice for three days. The team is treating this like an extension of training camp or an extended road trip. The Panthers will do all their on-field work and weight lifting at IMG and hold their meetings back at the team hotel. They could have stayed in Charlotte, but I think getting out of town – and avoiding all the potential distractions – is the smart move.
Carolina’s release of kicker Olindo Mare on Monday has some fans rooting for the New Orleans Saints to release John Kasay and the Panthers to bring back their original kicker. I wouldn’t count on that. The team is serious about going with former Canadian Football League kicker Justin Medlock. Kasay is still with the Saints and could end up winning the job over Garrett Hartley. Even if he’s available, it doesn’t make sense for the Panthers to bring back Kasay. The main reason he was let go in the first place was because the Panthers didn’t think he could handle kickoffs and they didn’t want to carry a kickoff specialist. Medlock can handle kickoffs and field goals.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Akiem Hicks might not be the only rookie defensive tackle on New Orleans’ opening-day roster. Mike Triplett points out that Monday’s release of Remi Ayodele means there’s a chance that undrafted rookie Tyrunn Walker could make the regular-season roster. If he does, it probably will mean the Saints will carry five defensive tackles.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Gary Shelton runs through the list of college coaches moving to the NFL and the quarterbacks they went with in their first season. In a lot of cases, the coach and the quarterback didn’t succeed. But Greg Schiano and Josh Freeman might be able to be an exception to this. Freeman obviously had some issues last season, but I think he still is more talented than a lot of quarterbacks and Schiano and his staff have spent their entire time in Tampa Bay trying to set things up to make Freeman’s life easier.
The Bucs say they were aware Amobi Okoye had a history of knee issues when they signed him. But the fact Okoye has missed a big chunk of the preseason is a bit concerning because the Bucs don’t have a lot of other depth at defensive tackle.