NFC South Player Wire

BucsBlitz.com keeps you up to date on the latest news on players around the NFC South with this week's NFC South Player Wire, a service of Scout.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Chris Simms says he is physically okay. The wound from his spleen surgery has healed. He is cleared for contact. But something is not right. It's the way he is throwing the football. Months of inactivity and a long rehabilitation have enabled some bad habits in Simms' throwing mechanics. The result has been a poor off-season in which free agent Jeff Garcia already has been declared the starting quarterback. "The biggest thing is the rotation of my upper body," Simms said. "To get torque on the ball you need to turn that (throwing) shoulder and then turn into (the throw) and I'm not getting a whole lot of that. I think we all know I'm a pretty pure thrower, that's always been my strong point and I'm just not where I'd like to be yet. I'm not throwing the ball the way I'd like to. But if I can correct that, I think I'll be fine."

WR David Boston is making his second attempt in as many years to land a spot on the Bucs' roster. Boston was cut just prior to the first regular season game a year ago and is still somewhat limited by a knee injury. But he took the season off and now appears to be running more confidently.

Atlanta Falcons

CB Brent Grimes, from Shippensburg State, dazzled last training camp before suffering a groin injury. Despite his small school status, he never backed down from the big-named players. Grimes is shining over in NFL Europa for the Hamburg Sea Devils. He had a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 36-31 victory over Frankfurt.

DT Grady Jackson, who filed a lawsuit against the team for allegedly releasing his medical information and hurting his free agency position last season, may yet return to the team. With Rod Coleman out for the start of the season after suffering a quadriceps injury on a watercraft, the Falcons are hurting at defensive tackle.

Carolina Panthers

OT Jordan Gross isn't pushing for a new deal or trying to pressure the team, but admitted on Thursday he'd love to have a contract in place before he reports to training camp on July 27 so it won't become a distraction. "It would be nice," said Gross, who is moving back to right tackle this season. "I'd like to (have a new deal), just so you don't have to worry about it. I'm not the type of guy that wants to draw anything out or make a big fuss over anything. But, yeah, it would be a little more difficult during the season because you've got a lot more on your plate." Gross is under contract through 2007. When Panthers owner Jerry Richardson brought five players to his lake house a few weekends ago for a "bonding experience," Gross and Julius Peppers were among those invited. Obviously, Richardson views them as an important part of the franchise's future as the team moves forward. "That's a point he made, that we've got a lot of leaders on this team who have been leaders for a long time," Gross said. "He was kind of letting us know what he expects us to do now and try to take the reins a little bit."

RB Eric Shelton, a second-round draft pick in 2005 who has carried just eight times in two seasons, hopes that a change of offensive coordinator will ignite his career. Shelton found himself in Dan Henning's doghouse after failing to pick up the offense as a rookie. Now, Jeff Davidson is the new coordinator. "Obviously (Henning) came out in the newspaper and said what he said, so he was down on me," Shelton said. "I have no control over what somebody else thinks of me. But obviously the team felt strongly enough about me to keep me here. So I'm doing something right. And I'm going to continue to keep doing that. (Henning) is no longer here and we have (Davidson) running the show, so right now I'm just trying not to get in his doghouse." Shelton is largely viewed as a bust by Carolina fans. "I always kind of wondered why people are down on me," Shelton said during a break in minicamp. "I mean, how can you be down on a guy who really ain't had an opportunity to go out there and show what he can do? I don't get it. But I'm going to keep going out there and doing the best I can. That's all I can do. The decision (on whether I'm here this year) is not in my hands."

OL Evan Mathis is getting some work at offensive tackle. Mathis, who started most of last season at right guard, has been taking reps with the second team behind right tackle Jordan Gross. Last year's starting right tackle, Jeremy Bridges, is working with the first team at right guard. Gross has moved back to right tackle with the anticipation of Travelle Wharton coming back from a knee injury.

New Orleans Saints

WR/KR Michael Lewis had his contract terminated by the Saints. Lewis, a hometown favorite who grew up in the suburbs of New Orleans, made the practice squad in 2000 and graduated to the active roster a year later. Lewis, who didn't play college football, was the classic NFL underdog and became known as "The Beer Man" to adoring fans because he drove a beer truck before catching on with the Saints. Small in stature, Lewis came up big in 2002 when he was named an All-Pro after setting an NFL record for total return yards in a season. But he tore his ACL in 2005 and didn't return until the second half of the '06 season. That, coupled with his age (he'll be 36 in November), signaled the end of his career in New Orleans. He leaves as the team's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage (5,903) and punt return yardage (1,482). "Michael is part of the fabric of our community and will always have a special place in the history of our club," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement. "The way he made our team, as a player who worked hard, wasn't drafted, supported his family and followed his dream, is unique and something we're all proud to be a part of."

DL Willie Whitehead had his contract terminated by the Saints. Whitehead paid his dues in NFL Europe before making the roster in 1999

CB DeJuan Groce was waived by the Saints. Groce played mostly on special teams in 2006 after being claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Rams just before the regular-season opener.

T Peter Dyakowski was waived by the Saints.

FS Steve Gleason, a special teams standout, underwent a microfracture procedure on his injured right knee June 5 and is expected to miss the opening of training camp in late July.

CB Usama Young (third round) signed a three-year deal with the Saints. Terms were undisclosed.

G Andy Alleman (third round) signed a three-year deal with the Saints. Terms were undisclosed.

CB David Jones (fifth round) signed with the Saints. Terms were undisclosed.


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