NFC South News and Notes
Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons: For the Panthers, Jonathan Stewart is expected to make his season debut. He was set to be activated from the PUP list on Saturday and his head coach, Ron Rivera, announced that he would likely see between 6-10 touches in today’s game.
Muddling the backfield situation for the Panthers even more is the news that DeAngelo Williams returned to practice from a quad injury and is probable for today’s game. The Panthers now have Williams, Stewart and touchdown vulture, Mike Tolbert, all on hand for today’s contest.
On the Atlanta side of the ball, Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White returned to practice in a limited fashion Friday. He was expected to be a game-time decision but an early report from NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport this morning suggests that he will not suit up against the Panthers. This means the Falcons and Matt Ryan will be relying on Harry Douglas once again as their wide receiver of choice. Maybe this is also the week the Falcons will find Tony Gonzalez who has seen constant double-teams since both White and Julio Jones have been out of action. I doubt it though, Harry will have to win his one-on-one matchups if they want to have any success today.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints could be getting back one of their best defensive players as Jonathan Vilma was just activated from the Injured Reserve/Eligible to Return list. He likely won’t play more than a part-time role if active for the game against the New York Jets but this is a good sign for the defense which already has a nice matchup against rookie Geno Smith.
Marques Colston has barely practiced this week and is going to be a game-time decision. If he’s unable to suit up, that would make Lance Moore more desirable of an option this week. In his first game back this season, Moore caught a touchdown and three receptions. Rookie Kenny Stills could also see a few more targets as he perfects his role of being the new Devery Henderson.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Head coach Greg Schiano agreed that Doug Martin would eventually need to get his torn labrum repaired, but still had hope that his season would continue at some point. I can’t understand why they would let Martin even get close to the field at this point with the season already lost, but Schiano is a dead-man walking. He knows that this isn’t his job to keep and is just playing the media game right now. I believe that Doug Martin has about a 20% chance of seeing the field this season. He needs to be put on IR before something stupid happens.
On the defensive side, it was revealed that Pro Bowl DB Darrelle Revis hasn’t been healthy enough to play press coverage which is why the Bucs have elected to go zone. Many were wondering why Tampa Bay was playing him in zone and there is the reason. Expect him to get more time one-on-one as he gets healthier during the season. Even while playing in zone, Revis has been very good this season.
It was also revealed earlier in the week that Tiquan Underwood would be taking over the WR2 slot previously occupied by Mike Williams. Williams is now on IR and will look to make a healthy return in 2014. Underwood shouldn’t be looked at any more than a WR4 or 5 in standard leagues could creep into WR3 territory in 16+ team leagues.