Checking the injuries that matter most

The final injury reports of the week are out, so let’s take a quick run through the injuries that matter most across the NFC South.

Saints. Coach Sean Payton went ahead and already declared running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush out. Same for cornerbacks Randall Gay and Tracy Porter. What’s it all mean? Get ready to see a lot of Ladell Betts and Julius Jones at running back and rookie cornerback Patrick Robinson. On a positive note, linebacker Scott Shanle, who was added to the injury report during the week, is listed as probable.

Falcons. They only have two injuries of real note. Defensive end John Abraham is listed as questionable with a back injury and was limited in Friday’s practice. Abraham is a veteran guy and things like this are going to happen, but I think he’ll be on the field Sunday, if at all possible. On the flip side, rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon also is listed as questionable with a knee injury and did not participate in practice. The Falcons aren’t going to rush their first-round pick back onto the field and risk making the injury worse. That decision is made a little easier by the fact they have a very competent alternative in former starter Stephan Nicholas.

Eagles. We’re going to step outside the division on this one for obvious reasons. Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said quarterback Michael Vick (ribs) will not start against the Falcons, his former team. Kevin Kolb will get the nod. But it appears to be at least a possibility Vick still could play. Vick is listed as questionable and took part in Friday’s practice on a limited basis.

Buccaneers. As we’ve known for several days, center Jeff Faine is out and will be for at least a month. Rookie receiver Mike Williams (foot) returned to practice on a limited basis, but is listed as questionable. Cornerback Elbert Mack is questionable, which could mean some action for rookie Myron Lewis.

Panthers. They’ve got their bye this week. But the good news is we only have to wait another week for new receiver Devin Thomas to come in and carry this franchise to victories in its next 11 regular-season games and straight to the Super Bowl. In fact, I’m hearing rumblings that, now that the Panthers have Thomas on board, Jerry Richardson and John Fox are going to dinner tonight to hammer out a life-time contract for the coach. General manager Marty Hurney originally was supposed to attend, but he’s going to be on the phone with general managers in Chicago and New York. Apparently, upon hearing of the Thomas acquisition, Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins have demanded to be traded back to the Panthers. Also, linebacker Kevin Greene is pondering coming out of retirement to join the dynasty.