NFC South Blog
Jackson appears to have some of his explosiveness back early in training camp, according to ESPN's Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure. Jackson suffered from nagging injury concerns, but according to McClure, Jackson "still has a good year in him if he remains healthy. The 31-year old Jackson will compete with Falcons RB Devonta Freeman for touches in 2014, as he endeavors to improve on his 3.45 yards per carry average from last year.
It should come as no surprise that a rookie who missed every spring workout and practice is lagging behind the rest of his teammates in training camp. That's the position in which Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins finds himself. The second-rounder couldn't take part in OTAs and minicamp due to an NFL rule that prohibits rookies for joining their team until their college classes let out for the summer. Now he's in camp, fully recovered from February foot surgery, and "behind a lot," according to head coach Lovie Smith.
"He's an intelligent man, so he'll be able to [catch up]," Smith said of Seferian-Jenkins. "As much as anything, we wanted to get him healthy and he is that.''
Panthers rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin knocked knees with a teammate during practice Sunday and underwent an MRI. It revealed a bone bruise that isn't expected to keep him out for a long while. Head coach Ron Rivera said Monday that Benjamin's knee is stable but has some swelling.
It seems like everyone is falling in love with wide receiver Brandin Cooks at Saints camp. Especially and perhaps most importantly quarterback Drew Brees, who hasn't been shy in setting the expectations high for Cooks in his first season. Brees said this about Cooks on Friday:
"Here's a guy who's obviously extremely talented," Brees said. "But more so than that, very intelligent. You get this feeling that he wants to be great, he loves football, he wants to learn. Every time he comes up to me, it's eyes wide.
"He absorbs [information] very quickly and goes out and applies it. I'd say that's pretty rare for a young guy. Typically their head is spinning for a little while. Doesn't seem like anything is too big for him."
Jones is showing no lingering issues with his surgically repaired foot, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. Jones is moving well, accelerating and stopping with ease. While the Falcons are limiting his reps in camp, that is reportedly a cautionary measure, and not because of any setbacks in Jones' recovery. Jones missed 11 games in 2013 with a broken foot.
The New Orleans Saints are giving running back Mark Ingram one more shot. The former first-round pick is entering a contract season. He has never surpassed more than 700 yards from scrimmage or five touchdowns in a season, but right now, he is on top of the team's running back depth chart.
Ingram ran with the first-team offense during Saturday's practice while Pierre Thomas worked with the second team. Head coach Sean Payton referred to Ingram as "one of our starters" later in the day.
"He's a guy that we felt played very well in the last half of the season," Payton said of Ingram. "It's a position where we obviously carry depth, because it's a position that gets nicked up in our game. (Ingram) is smart. He's tough. He runs with good pad level. So far, he's doing well."
ESPN's Panthers beat writer David Newton described QB Cam Newton as 'looking rusty' on the first day of training camp. He also noted a "scary moment came when Newton walked away with a slight limp after stepping into a throw that wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery dropped." Newton is recovering from an offseason surgery to repair loose ligaments in his ankle.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is entering his 14th year in the league. Very few players are physically able to live an NFL life for that long, but Brees' body is in good shape, and he believes that he may have 40 percent of his career still ahead of him. Speaking with NFL.com's Albert Breer on Friday, Brees said there's "no doubt" he could play into his mid-40s.
"I'm not getting ahead myself, like it's a pipe dream, at 45," Brees said. "I understand the challenges that come along with that. But why not? If I can stay healthy, and I'm having fun and playing at a high level, why wouldn't I wanna do that? The biggest challenge is physically, the maintenance, the recovery, the way you train. You gotta hope that you stay healthy, but why not?"
Brees has been able to stay healthy for the past decade. He's missed just one game since 2004.
Jonathan Stewart told reporters at Saturday's training camp, "It's definitely frustrating, but it's nothing that I'm really too concerned about considering my past and my history with my ankles." The 27 year old running back hasn't played 16 games in a season since 2011. Stewart says it's frustrating and the only thing he wants to do is contribute. The Panther's running back feels as though recovering from the torn hamstring injury won't be problem. Stewart is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, but will be back for the regular season.
White and the Falcons have agreed to a three-year extension that will tie the veteran wideout to the team through the 2017 season. Reports had emerged previously that White wanted a new deal before the start of training camp, and now that has been accomplished. White caught 63 balls for 711 yards and three touchdowns last year, his lowest totals since 2006. White will look to improve on those numbers as Falcons WR Julio Jones returns to the team this season following a foot injury that kept him out most of last year.