NFC South Rookie Report

From the SportsXchange, here is the latest NFC South Rookie Report:

ATLANTA

Though veteran OLB Demorrio Williams (pectoral surgery) is expected to return to game action this week, he is not going to automatically regain his starting position from fourth-round draft pick Stephen Nicholas.

Nicholas has started on the weak side the first two preseason games and has shown the range and toughness that could make it hard to keep him off the field. Williams' speed and ball-hawking skills will eventually get him back into the starting lineup but Nicholas will move into the No. 2 spot, ahead of Orlando Huff.

SS Daren Stone, a raw sixth-round pick, is showing how much athleticism and a willingness to learn can pay off. Stone, from Maine, is still unpolished but he is using his size (6-3, 217), speed and physical play to stand out on special teams and make plays, especially against the run, when he steps in for starter Lawyer Milloy. Stone could emerge as another one of Rich McKay's late-round picks to develop into a quality pro.

DT Trey Lewis was moved from the outside technique to backup nose tackle and he showed no regression whatsoever. Lewis held his point of attack and got penetration by quickly getting into his gaps without overrunning the play or getting pushed out of position.

CAROLINA

LB Jon Beason, the 25th overall pick in the draft, is now working with the first team at WLB.

WR Dwayne Jarrett (second round) made his debut against Philly and caught one pass for seven yards.

C Ryan Kalil (second round) struggled working as the first-team center against the Eagles.

WR Ryne Robinson is still returning punts, but has been taken off kick-return duty for now. Nick Goings was the team's first-team kickoff returner against the Eagles.

NEW ORLEANS

WR Robert Meachem (first round) caught one pass for six yards against the Bengals, but was only the fifth receiver on the field even though starters Marques Colston and Devery Henderson were out.

CB Usama Young (third round) started strong and continues to impress even though he has been bothered by a quad strain. He had four tackles against the Bengals.

OG Andy Alleman (third round) and OT Jermon Bushrod (fourth round) are still working with the second-team offense.

RB Antonio Pittman (fourth round) had 17 yards on six carries and a 1-yard TD run, his first as a pro, in the win over the Bengals.

CB David Jones (fifth round) and LB Marvin Mitchell (seventh round) continue to get reps with the third-team defense and plenty of work on special teams.

TAMPA BAY

S Tanard Jackson will compete for playing time this season. Jackson had three stellar plays in a row Saturday at Jacksonville. He broke up a pass in the end zone, assisted on another tackle and made a goal line stop. The Bucs are playing Jackson some in the slot on nickel packages, where he appears to be the heir apparent to Ronde Barber because of his ability to cover and play the run.

DE Gaines Adams, the team's No. 1 pick, continues to make splash plays. He forced a fumble at Jacksonville, which Byron Leftwich recovered. He also had a sack.


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