South Notes: Clowney, Newton, Locker

After undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee today, Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is expected to miss nine months as he recovers from the procedure, according to Adam Schefter of (Twitter link). That timeline could prove problematic, as John McClain of the Houston Chronicle writes, because it could mean that Clowney will be still be sidelined when the 2015 season begins. Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, was placed on injured reserve last week after playing in only four games, registering just seven tackles. Here’s more from the South divsions…

  • Cam Newton is unlikely to play this weekend after being injured in a car accident earlier today, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Newton suffered two transverse process fractures in his lower back, the same injury that forced Tony Romo to miss one game earlier this season. The Panthers, who at 4-8-1 are still in NFC South hunt, will turn to backup Derek Anderson against the Buccaneers.
  • While one quarterback in a contract year – Browns signal-caller Brian Hoyer – has been benched as he nears free agency, another will get an opportunity to showcase his skills before he hits the open market. Former first-round pick Jake Locker will start the Titans’ final three games with Zach Mettenberger out, as John Glennon of the Tennessean details.
  • Two days after he made several errors in the Saints’ loss to the Panthers, second-year safety Kenny Vaccaro has been benched, tweets Ian Rapoport of Vaccaro, the fifteenth overall pick in the 2013 draft, recorded an outstanding rookie season, and was expected to form an excellent defensive backfield duo with free agent signee Jairus Byrd. Now, Byrd is on injured reserve, while Vaccaro, who rates as the third-worst safety in the league per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), will watch from the sideline.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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