NFC South Notes: Underwood, McCown, Cooks

After losing several key contributors from their 2013 receiving corps, the Panthers made Kelvin Benjamin their first-round pick and signed veterans Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery. But, as’s David Newton writes (within a preview of the NFC South), there’s one promising Carolina pass-catcher who isn’t garnering much attention: 27-year-old Tiquan Underwood. A seventh-round pick of the Jaguars, Underwood spent last year with the Buccaneers, catching 24 passes for 440 yards and four touchdowns, but ranked as just the 87th-best receiver in the league according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Newton believes that Underwood will act as the Panthers’ deep threat, a role that Ted Ginn Jr. played last season.

  • The Buccaneers signed veteran quarterback Josh McCown this offseason, and at least one Tampa Bay player is pleased with McCown’s play so far. “…Don’t take anything from Glennon; he’s just only in his second year,” linebacker Jonathan Casillas told WEPN-FM in New York (link via Chris Wesseling of “But McCown looks like he’s played a couple of years in this game. It’s a strong comparison, but he reminds me of Drew (Brees), not just the way he throws the ball, but his approach to the game. The first one in, last one out. You know, he’s always around. He’s very (communicative), very personable. And you can tell he’s a born leader.”
  • Presuming that Carl Nicks fails to get healthy, the Buccaneers will be looking for two starting offensive guards, writes Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times in a piece examining Tampa Bay’s position battles. Jamon Meredith and rookie Kadeem Edwards have the early edge, but experienced veteran Oniel Cousins is also an option.
  • Eric Dellaratta of examines the running back rotation in Tampa Bay, noting that he believes the Buccaneers will end up keeping Doug Martin, rookie Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey, and Jeff Demps (who offers value in the return game).
  • Earlier today, we passed along Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated’s positive assessment of Brandin Cooks; Knox Bardeen of Bleacher Report concurs, noting that the Saints rookie will help New Orleans overcome the loss of Darren Sproles.
  • Vaughn McClure of thinks the Falcons need to rely on Matt Ryan and the passing game in order to rebound from last year’s abysmal season. However, the Falcons ranked a decent 11th in terms of passing DVOA (per Football Outsiders), but ranked 21st in rushing DVOA, so perhaps an improvement in the running game would be the better way to ameliorate Atlanta’s woes.
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