NFC South Blog
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.
Quarterback Drew Brees has been working in head coach Sean Payton's offense since they both arrived in New Orleans in 2006. He has nothing to prove in the preseason, but if he needs a rep or two, at least he should be healthy enough now to get it. Brees returned to practice Sunday after missing about two weeks of action, including the Saints' first two preseason games, due to an oblique injury.
Buccaneers rookie running back Charles Sims underwent surgery on Saturday for a broken ankle and will miss 12 to 14 weeks as he recovers, according to CBS Sports. Sims, the Buccaneers' third-round draft pick, was expected to see work early as part of a committee involving himself, Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey and Mike James. Sims totaled 45 total yards in the Buccaneers' first preseason game.
Sims sustained a right ankle injury during Tuesday's practice, according to the Tampy Bay Times' beat reporter Greg Auman via Twitter. Auman posted a photo of Sims walking in a boot, but without crutches, at the Bucs facility. The Buccaneers drafted Sims with a third-round pick in this year's draft, and he's expected to see immediate work alongside RBs Doug Martin, Mike James and Bobby Rainey.
ESPN's David Newton says that WR Kelvin Benjamin is the "star of Panthers camp." The rookie receiver will be the Panthers' WR1 this year, after impressing coaches and fans in the teams first preseason game. In that game, versus the Bills, Benjamin's highlights included a 29-yard touchdown catch. The 6-foot-5 rookie will line up alongside veteran WR Jerricho Cotchery and TE Greg Olsen as the team's primary receiving threats.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune stated Friday that Saints running backss Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson "continue to pull away" from Pierre Thomas, who has moved to third on the team's depth chart. Thomas has been taking reps with the second team during camp. The Times-Picayune also reports that Thomas was "on the trading block" this offseason. He accepted a reduced salary in order to remain with the team.
ESPN's David Newton reports that Cam Newton has been medically cleared to start next Sunday's preseason game against the Chiefs. Newton, who is recovering from offseason ankle surgery, has been limited thus far in camp as he struggled with ankle pains. Newton was also cleared by doctors to run the read-option in practice. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said that there will be "no limits" on Newton going forward in camp.
Cam Newton underwent surgery during the offseason to repair ligaments in his ankle. The intention of the surgery was to tighten the ligaments within the ankle as they were stretched out. Newton was fully cleared for training camp, but he still feels the sharp pains and describes them akin to, "A thump from your mom when you said something that you weren't supposed to." Because of the random spurts of pain, Newton has been seeing less practice time. Wednesday was his shortest amount of time participating at camp and on Thursday he practiced even less. There is no word whether Newton will play any time at all during the Panther's preseason game this Friday night.
Playing his first preseason game Friday night with the Atlanta Falcons, rookie Devonta Freeman had third-string duties, running behind Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith. While reports have come out of camp that he's had a slow start in training camp, many expected him to be the starter with injury-prone RB Steven Jackson sitting out. Against the second and third-string defense of the Dolphins, Freeman was able to put up 10 carries for 50 yards and one catch for 57 yards.