David Mayo

South Rumors: Luck, Bucs, Saints, Texans

The Colts have their franchise centerpiece ready to resume his career after a hiatus so long it had many concerned his NFL days were over. But not everyone’s buying into Andrew Luck being able to pick up where he left off.

Have you watched the guy play? Go back and watch him pre-injury…like 2015. Now watch him today. His throwing motion is completely changed, and he has no deep velocity,” an AFC offensive assistant coach said, via Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. “His entire game has changed. I bet he’ll be Checkdown Charlie. Like Alex Smith but afraid to get hit.”

An AFC South assistant, per Miller, doubted the Colts’ offensive line can protect Luck. That was an issue for the team when its 28-year-old quarterback was last healthy. Colts scouts and execs are obviously more bullish on Luck being ready to resume his trajectory.

The last time y’all saw Andrew, he threw for 4,200 yards with a (messed) up shoulder and a bad offensive line,” a “high-level” Colts executive told Miller. “Just wait.”

Continuing with some additional Colts news, here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Both Anthony Castonzo and Marlon Mack returned to Colts practice this week, per ESPN.com’s Mike Wells and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). Castonzo injured his hamstring before training camp and re-aggravated it in the first week of August. He missed nearly a month of work but is optimistic he can still play in Week 1, the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer tweets. Mack missed almost a month of work as well because of a hamstring issue. He’s Indianapolis’ projected running back starter, but his status for the opener is also up in the air.
  • Both the Buccaneers and Saints paid premiums to sign certain practice squad players. Tampa Bay went well above the minimum $7.6K-per-week wages to add linebacker Azeem Victor, agreeing to pay him $28K per week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Saints are paying wide receiver Keith Kirkwood that amount as well, per Pelissero. Kirkwood is a rookie UDFA out of Temple who went to Saints camp, while Victor was sixth-round Raiders pick in April.
  • While Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson are expected to handle three-down work for the Panthers, David Mayo will start in place of the suspended Thomas Davis, DC Eric Washington said (via Joe Person of The Athletic, on Twitter). Mayo’s a 2015 sixth-round pick who’s started one game in his three previous Panther seasons.
  • The Texans worked out both Charles Sims and Akeem Hunt on Thursday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter). While Sims is a former regular on Buccaneers passing downs, Hunt’s workout went well, Wilson tweets, adding no deal is imminent. The Texans will be without D’Onta Foreman for the first third of the season. Alfred Blue, third-year back Tyler Ervin and recent waiver claim Gregory Howell are on Houston’s roster behind starter Lamar Miller.

NFC Notes: Peterson, Vikings, Kuechly

Bruce Arians came up with the idea for the Cardinals to acquire Adrian Peterson, doing so after his team’s blowout loss to the Eagles. Arians was driving to the team facility when the concept emerged, Lars Anderson of Bleacher Report notes. The Cardinals coach watched every Peterson carry with the Saints to make sure the 32-year-old future Hall of Famer still had enough to be a solution for an Arizona rushing attack that still ranks last in the league because of its anemic start. Arians then took the idea to Steve Keim, who called Saints GM Mickey Loomis, Anderson reports.

He ran hard and could get something out of nothing,” Arians said. “We had finesse backs on our team. I was looking for that power guy. He was it, brother, he was it.”

Immediately installed as Arizona’s starter, Peterson turned back the clock and rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his Cardinals debut. The former five-time All-Pro said previously he wants to play into his late 30s, but that dialogue stopped in New Orleans. But Peterson has resumed that talking point now as a Cardinal, eyeing “four or five” more seasons.

I felt like my ability was going to waste in New Orleans,” Peterson said, via Anderson. “The system just wasn’t a good fit for me. But I still want to play four or five more years. I still can run a high-4.3 40. And I’ve always loved getting the ball deep in the backfield, which is what we’re doing here. I feel like I’m built for this offense.”

Here’s the latest from the NFC, shifting to Peterson’s first two NFL employers.

  • The Vikings are starting Case Keenum again this week, the team announced. Mike Zimmer, though, said he believes Sam Bradford will play again this season, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. This will be Keenum’s fifth start of the year. Bradford’s status has gone from somewhat surprising inactive in Week 2 to being potentially out for six weeks to having the knee be categorized as worse than what’s been reported. Bradford consulted with a specialist last week, Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com notes. The eighth-year quarterback saw this same specialist previously, per Zimmer. Teddy Bridgewater returned to practice but likely remains far away from playing in a game.
  • Luke Kuechly will miss the Panthers‘ Week 7 tilt against the Bears after suffering a concussion in Week 6. David Mayo will replace Kuechly at middle linebacker, Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk notes. Kuechly has missed time because of concussions in each of the past two seasons but was progressing in the protocol earlier this week.
  • Minnesota will also be without Stefon Diggs this weekend, with the Vikes’ No. 1 wide receiver set to miss a second straight game because of a groin injury.
  • Saints practice squad offensive lineman Cameron Tom recently had his salary bumped to $27K+ per week, according to a source who spoke with Nick Underhill of The Advocate. He was previously making $7,200 per week. Assuming he stays on the taxi squad through the end of the season, he’ll earn $344K as opposed to $122K. His weekly pay is now equal to a minimum salaried player on the 53-man roster ($465K). It’s a sign that the Saints think highly of Tom and that other teams have thought about signing him away.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

NFC South Notes: D. Allen, Falcons, Martin

As Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com details, new Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen received plenty of praise from head coach Sean Payton this week after the team’s win over the Buccaneers, in which New Orleans held Tampa Bay to just 17 points.

Since Payton’s future remains uncertain, it’s hard to say for sure that Allen’s job as Saints DC is safe next season — a new head coach may want to bring his own assistants. Still, if Allen finishes the season strong after taking over the NFL’s worst defense, he shouldn’t have any trouble finding work for 2016.

Here’s more from around the NFC South:

  • With the Falcons in the midst of a six-game losing streak, it’s looking more and more like owner Arthur Blank will make changes to the front office in the offseason, writes Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. According to La Canfora, there have been rumblings since before training camp that Seahawks executive Trent Kirchner could end up in Atlanta, working with ex-Seahawk Dan Quinn, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Kirchner replaces Thomas Dimitroff as the Falcons’ general manager.
  • Buccaneers running back Doug Martin only got 11 carries on Sunday against the Saints’ league-worst rushing defense, despite racking up 81 yards on those 11 attempts. While the Bucs’ usage of Martin was questionable, the conspiracy theory that the team is trying to limit his yardage totals to make him easier to re-sign doesn’t make sense, as Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times writes.
  • Rookie Panthers linebacker David Mayo will miss at least the next two weeks with a hamstring issue, tweets Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Mayo hasn’t played much for Carolina this season, so we’ll see if the club decides to place him on injured reserve or keep him on its roster for the playoffs.

Panthers Sign Shaq Thompson

The Panthers announced that they have signed three of their five draft picks, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). First-round linebacker Shaq Thompson, fourth-round tackle Daryl Williams, and fifth-round linebacker David Mayo are now under contract.

Thompson has exceptional speed and agility for a linebacker and he originally arrived at Washington as one of the most highly-ranked safeties in the nation. At the combine, Thompson ran a 4.64 40-yard-dash, faster than a lot of his peers at the position. Some projected Thompson as a second-round pick, but the Panthers ID’d him as the best player there in the first.

The Panthers had only five picks this year, so they only have two unsigned players left to go.