I just arrived back at NFC South Blog headquarters, so let’s weigh in on some of the news of the day around the NFC South.
As expected, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on injured reserve. As expected, that brought questions about if McCoy, who now has had each of his first two seasons cut short, is injury prone.
“It’s football,’’ Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said. “[Quarterback Matthew] Stafford missed two seasons for the Detroit Lions and he is probably putting up his best season. He has to come back, he has to go rehab, get his mind right and come back ready to play. And be ready to play a 16-game season.”
There still is hope McCoy can come back next season and be an impact player. In his limited playing time, he’s shown some promise. But the Bucs are going to miss him in the short term. Fellow second-year defensive tackle Brian Price has been playing well, but Roy Miller likely will move into the starting lineup. Miller’s not bad, but he doesn’t have McCoy’s upside. The Bucs are hoping Frank Okam will come back from a calf injury, but they’ll have to add another defensive tackle to the rotation.
As he met with the New Orleans media, Saints coach Sean Payton said cornerback Tracy Porter, who was carted off the field after a neck injury Sunday, was at the facility and in the training room.
“All of the tests and X-rays came back negative,’’ Payton said. “Basically he’s dealing with some chest and upper-back soreness from the collision. All the news with his injury is positive so that’s encouraging.’’
If Porter has to miss some time, the Saints likely will use Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson as the starters. Leigh Torrence could be the nickel back, but this could open the door for some playing time for rookie Johnny Patrick, who has been inactive most of the season.
Atlanta coach Mike Smith said his staff is gaining more confidence in rookie running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
“Jacquizz, again, his touches went up [Sunday],’’ Smith said. “That was something that through our evaluation in our bye week that we saw that we needed to make sure that we felt comfortable with Jacquizz in basically all phases, not just only as a third-down or a change-of-pace back. He’s proven that he can run the ball from all of our personnel groupings. He has a much better understanding than when he got here in regards to his protection responsibilities. Jacquizz is becoming the player we envisioned that he would be when we drafted him. He’s been a great addition and through the second half of the season, he’s another weapon that we’ll be able to put out there on the field for our offense.”
The Panthers are fourth in the league in penalties and penalty yardage. Ron Rivera said he believes the fact he’s a first-year head coach might have something to do with calls not going Carolina’s way. I’m not so sure about that. The most effective way to avoid penalties is to stick to the fundamentals and play smart. If you do that, it doesn’t matter if Rivera or Bill Belichick is your head coach.