NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

Buccaneers S Justin Evans has had a long road back from a toe injury suffered last December, but the former second-round pick returned to practice this week and plans to play in Tampa Bay’s fourth preseason game. 

“It feels great to be back out there,” Evans said via Matt Matera of the pewterreport.com. “[Coming back] during OTAs was the plan, but it didn’t come through. It took a little extra time, but I’m back healthy now.”

Evans missed OTA’s and has been on the PUP since the start of camp with not just the initial toe injury, but also what were confirmed as separate injuries to his heel and eventually both feet.

“It was just one thing after another,” Evans said. “Just this toe, and this injury on my feet. I always had just some little nicks, and then over time throughout last season, throughout playing, the football wear and tear just got worse and worse. That’s what I’ve been dealing with.”

Falcons

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Monday that they’re still hoping to get a long-term extension in place with WR Julio Jones before the start of the season.

“I would hope so, but I don’t know that,” Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ll have to let things take their course. I know that we are definitely in serious negotiations. It’s our goal, and their goal, as well to get it done before the start of the season.”

“I’ve said this publicly and privately to Julio and Julio has said the same thing to me, both privately and publicly,” Blank added. “We expect Julio to be a Falcon for life and we have no reason to think that’s going to change at all.

“The negotiations continue to move along in a positive way. It’s a big contract, and it’s complex and what have you. It takes a little more time than we’d like. Probably a little more time than he would like, but I know we are in a good place.

  • Per Kelsey Conway, Quinn told reports Falcons WR Julio Jones and LB Deion Jones would be full-go in practice next week as they prepare for Week 1. 
  • Falcons first-round OT Kaleb McGary returned to practice and looked good following his heart procedure, though Atlanta might not play him in the team’s final preseason game. (Vaughn McClure)
  • Before the procedure, McGary had been equally splitting the first-team reps at right tackle with Ty Sambrailo. (D. Orlando Ledbetter)

Panthers

  • Panthers HC Ron Rivera told reporters that QB Cam Newton is progressing in his return from a sprained foot. 
  • Newton has also shed his walking boot, according to Mike Garafolo.
  • Newton threw at practice Monday and will continue to be eased back in as the team prepares to bring him back for Week 1, per the Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue.
  • Panthers DE Efe Obada is one of a number of bubble players with their last chance coming in Week 4 of the preseason. Obada, in his second year on the team’s active roster as an International Pathway player, is also dealing with a position change as the Panthers switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4. (Rodrigue)
  • Former first-round DT Vernon Butler is also on the bubble, as he hasn’t stood out entering a contract year, though he has been hurt. 
  • Rodrigue mentions DE Bryan Cox had his chances impacted by his recent citation for speeding and marijuana possession, as he could face discipline from the league. 
  • Panthers CB Kevon Seymour has missed most of camp with a hamstring injury, but Seymour is liked by Rivera as a depth option at outside corner: “He has a specific skill set that could really help. He’s a good-sized cornerback, he’s strong, he’s fast — he’s a 4.3 kid who runs well — so you want to try to keep a guy like that in the mix, keep a guy like that healthy so he can get on the field as much as possible.”
  • Rodrigue says seventh-round WR Terry Godwin‘s roster spot is secure for his work as a returner, but he could do more to show he deserves a role as a receiver, too.
  • The Panthers will have a tough decision at running back, as fifth-rounder Jordan Scarlett, UDFA Elijah Holyfield and Reggie Bonafon are all contenders for the No. 3 spot. 
  • Rodrigue notes Panthers QB Taylor Heinicke is likely auditioning for other teams in Carolina’s Week 4 preseason game given they have younger options they want to develop. 
  • Panthers K Graham Gano will kick against the Steelers in Week 4 of the preseason if he’s able to, as Rivera wants to get him some practice before the regular season: “If he’s able to kick at all, he will.” (Rodrigue)
  • The Panthers signed K Joey Slye after Gano’s knee, which was operated on this offseason, flared up again. Rivera has been clear Gano is still the starter, as long as he’s healthy: “He’s one of the quality kickers in this league. We just have to wait and see… it is uneasy to be honest with you.” (Max Henson)

Saints

  • Saints DE Wes Horton was fined $21,056 for unnecessary roughness in the preseason game against the Chargers, for a low hit on QB Cardale Jones, per Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Advocate.
  • Saints activated DL Sheldon Rankins from the PUP list. (NFLTR)

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