NFC South Notes: Buccaneers, Panthers, Saints

     

Buccaneers

  • According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Buccaneers DT Vita Vea will have an MRI on his knee Friday. Vea limped off practice after injuring the knee during a one-on-one drill. 
  • Vea also underwent an MRI Tuesday night and the team wants to do more tests when the swelling goes down, per Rick Stroud.
  • NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo says the team hopes the injury is to Vea’s LCL and not a season-ending ACL tear. 
  • Regarding Vea’s injury, HC Bruce Arians said: “A little fluid in there, a little swelling. So we’ll do another one Friday. There’s nothing really to report on what it is yet or how much timetable as far as a return. We’ll know more after Friday. But the original prognosis was good.’‘ (Rick Stroud)
  • The Athletic’s Greg Auman writes that Buccaneers OL Mike Liedtke‘s season-ending shoulder injury opens the door for either Zach Bailey or Josh LeRibeus to make the team. 
  • Buccaneers CB Vernon Hargreaves is standing out so far during training camp, per WR Mike Evans: “A healthy Vern is a really good Vern. He’s a really good corner, real smart and savvy. … He’s having a really good camp.” (Auman)
  • Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians said third-round CB Jamel Dean has missed the last two practices due to a hip flexor. (Greg Auman)
  • Tampa Bay has Peyton Barber listed as their lead running back ahead of Ronald Jones, Andre Ellington, Dare Ogunbowale, and Bruce Anderson on their first depth chart. (Greg Auman)

Panthers

Health has held Panthers WR Curtis Samuel back the past two seasons. A hamstring injury kept the former second-round pick out of OTA’s and training camp before a broken ankle ended his rookie year in Week 10. He also missed the first three games of 2018 with an irregular heartbeat. Now, the blazing-fast third-year receiver is “light years” ahead of where he was as a rookie according to HC Ron Rivera, and he’s looking to carry his momentum into the regular season. 

“He’s had the most growth out of any player I’ve ever seen in terms of as a player, confidence … everything,” Panthers WR Torrey Smith said via ESPN’s David Newton. “I’m expecting him to have a huge year. He’s worked his way to be in that position.”

Samuel split time as a running back and wide receiver in college at Ohio State, so having the practice time to develop his route running has been critical. It’s now one of Samuel’s strengths. Being healthy enough to practice has also been huge for Samuel’s conditioning, the other main thing holding him back last year. 

“He couldn’t last into the third quarter,” Rivera said. “So when a lot of you were screaming, ‘Why don’t you play him more?’ Well, that’s part of it. He’s got to get those snaps so he can build that stamina so he can play an entire 65-minute game. That’s how important it is to be out here. If you don’t go through this and get those snaps and numbers of plays, now all of a sudden we’ll be in a game, and you’ll run out of gas in the third quarter.”

Saints

A gruesome knee injury ended Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater‘s time with the Vikings, but the former first-round pick says he feels as healthy as ever. 

“Man, I (can) honestly say that, ‘This is the best that I’ve ever felt in my six years,'” Bridgewater said via Chris Tomasson of the Pioner Press. “I feel great mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m looking forward to going out there and competing.”

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Saints play at home… not in Minnesota! No going back for Bridgwater!