NFC South Blog
Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith has changed his opinion of Martin as a pass catcher, according to ESPN. Smith, whose regime spent a third-round draft pick on RB Charles Sims this spring, now believes that Martin is capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. The coaching staff in Tampa Bay believe Martin "used training camp and the preseason to show his versatility." With Sims out until at least Week 10, Martin will lead the Buccaneers' rushing attack along with RB Bobby Rainey and RB Mike James.
Update: NFL.com's Ian Rapoport asked Bailey's agent, Jack Reale, if Bailey wants to continue playing. He responded, "Definitely, and he is fully healthy now."
Well, here's something to liven up a rather dull Tuesday.
The Patriots and Buccaneers are on the verge of a trade with direct and indirect fantasy implications all over the place. The Patriots will acquire second-year tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick next season from the Buccaneers in exchange for six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins.
FOX Sports' Jay Glazer was the first to break the big news. He said that the deal isn't final just yet, but the players involved have been informed, and terms have been worked out.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton may not be available for Week 1 of the regular season due to a hairline fracture in one of his ribs. Newton suffered the injury Friday night against the Patriots. Head coach Ron Rivera said Sunday that Newton is "very, very sore" and that his status for the season-opening game against the Buccaneers won't be determined until next week.
Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said Thursday that Doug Martin is now the team's "bell cow" running back after a spree of injuries have sidelined other Bucs backfield options.
"With Mike James going down with an injury and Charles Sims going down, Doug is our bell cow," Smith said.
That comment is a stark departure from the RBBC rhetoric Smith had been using throughout the preseason, and reflects the reality that the team is suddenly very thin at the RB position.
Chip Kelly continued turning the Philadelphia Eagles into University of Oregon-East on Tuesday. The Eagles acquired running back Kenjon Barner from the Panthers for a conditional seventh-round pick, bringing the total of former Ducks on the Eagles' current roster to nine.
Barner is a small-but-exciting player. He was drafted in the sixth round last year but saw only six carries in Carolina. As a senior at Oregon in 2012, Barner gained more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scored 23 touchdowns while being coached by Kelly.
Running back Steven Jackson will be ready to play Week 1, according to Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Jackson has been recovering from a hamstring strain suffered July 29, and he has missed the majority of the Falcons' training camp. Jackson was also hampered by a hamstring injury during the 2013 season. The 31-year-old Jackson has yet to see any preseason action, but Smith said there's a chance Jackson will play in the Falcons' final preseason game.
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones underwent surgery last October to repair a broken bone in his right foot, the second time he has had that surgery in three years Physically, Jones is fine. He has looked explosive on the practice field. He played in last weekend's game against the Texans and is ready to get back into a normal practice routine after being limited throughout camp.
It's between the ears where Jones is having a bit of a hard time.
"Physically, we are there, but I am still progressing mentally," Jones said during Tuesday night's episode of HBO's 'Hard Knocks.' "Just having that confidence I can go out there and run routes without thinking about my foot."
Catching passes runs in the blood of Saints running back Mark Ingram. His father, Mark Sr., spent 10 years in the NFL as a wide receiver, most notably with the New York Giants. But the younger Ingram hasn't had many opportunities to showcase soft hands during his career. In 2012 and 2013, Ingram caught six and seven passes, respectively. He basically has nowhere to go but up as a receiver, and he wants to go up this year.
"I haven't caught a lot of passes in the NFL, but in high school I played receiver. If you look at my recruiting thing, it says 'athlete,'" Ingram said proudly to ESPN's Mike Triplett. "And in college, I caught a lot of passes. I haven't done it a lot here, but I've always been confident in my ability to contribute out of the backfield running routes, line up out wide running routes. I'm comfortable doing all of that."
The Saints are testing Ingram's comfort level. He was on the field for a two-minute drill during Monday's practice and caught two passes from Drew Brees. He also recorded a receiving touchdown in a preseason game Friday, his first receiving touchdown in an NFL game no matter the date on the calendar. And Ingram indicates there's more where that came from.
"I know I'm an all-purpose back, a complete back," Ingram said. "I can do everything."
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen returned to the practice field Tuesday after missing a week due to a sore calf muscle, according to the Associated Press' Steve Reed. Olsen did not play in the Panthers' second preseason game last weekend. Olsen is one of the only veteran receiving options on the Panthers' roster going into 2014, as Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell both left the team in the offseason.