Dez Southward

NFC South Notes: Panthers WRs, Saints TEs

Chalk this up as one of the more amazing tidbits with respect to NFL team’s rosters, as written by The Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person: none of the 11 wide receivers on the Panthers roster this spring caught a pass for the team last season.

The Panthers went wide receiver in the first round of the draft, selecting 6-foot-5, 240-pound Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State No. 28 overall. He’ll be looking to replace departed receiver Steve Smith, as will fellow young wideouts Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt, who have been rotating through the first-, second- and third-team offenses in organized team activities.

“One thing we’re trying to make sure is everybody’s getting a lot of reps right now,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “Because when we get to training camp, we want to make sure everybody’s up to speed. We’ve made an emphasis that we’re rotating a lot of players, as much as possible. Wide receiver’s one of those positions.” 

As Person notes in his column, both King and McNutt have impressive collegiate résumés, starring at Georgia and Iowa, respectively. They’ll be competing for the starting receiver spots with Benjamin and three free-agent acquisitions: Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood and Jason Avant.

Check out more from the NFC South in the links below…

  • De’Andre Presley was the answer from Rivera when asked if a player has distinguished himself after Wednesday’s OTA, writes The Observer’s Tom Sorensen. Presley, a quarterback in college at Appalachian State, switched to cornerback upon signing with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent, and is now trying to make the Panthers roster at wide receiver.
  • The Panthers went defensive tackle back-to-back in the 2013 NFL Draft with the selections of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in the first and second rounds, respectively, but Short is still in a fight for a starting position, writes Jonathan Jones of The Observer.
  • Six tight ends combine for 20 years of experience on the Panthers roster, and Rivera loves the versatility they bring,’s David Newton reports.
  • While there is no replacing the immense talent of Jimmy Graham, Saints tight ends Ben Watson and Josh Hill are doing what is asked of them at OTAs, including everything Graham would be doing, per The Times-Picayune’s Christopher Dabe.
  • First-round pick receiver Brandin Cooks will be back for the final week of Saints OTAs, believes’s Mike Triplett.
  • Despite suffering two concussions in his rookie season, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said he won’t slow down nor change his reckless ways, Triplett writes.
  • With a defensive-heavy draft, notes’s Vaughn McClure, the Falcons surely made defensive coordinator Mike Nolan a happy man. Nolan touched on each of the seven defensive players drafted, including a glowing review of Dez Southward, the former Wisconsin safety whom Atlanta selected in the third round: “He’s got really good size and is fast. He’s an intelligent guy. He doesn’t have as much football in his background as other guys because he played late in high school. But he’ll listen, as opposed to somebody that didn’t learn much and then they think that they have all the answers.”

Extra Points: Motta, Williams, West, Lewis-Moore, Steen

“There appears to be some doubt about Atlanta Falcons safety Zeke Motta‘s playing status this season as he continues to recover from neck surgery,” writes ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. Motta underwent surgery in December to repair a cervical fracture, but he hasn’t been medically cleared and won’t be participating in the team’s offseason program. William Moore is entrenched at one safety spot, but with Motta out of the picture, that leaves Dwight Lowery, Kemal Ishmael and rookie fifth-rounder Dez Southward battling for the other position.

More from around the league. . .

  • Tom Crabtree has been released by the Buccaneers, as reported by. . .Tom Crabtree, formerly of the Buccaneers (via Twitter).
  • Ryan Williams‘ workout for the Cowboys wasn’t your run-of-the-mill look-see, tweets Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram, as 24 scouts, coaches and staff were watching.
  • Browns rookie running back Terrance West confirmed what most suspected immediately following his third-round selection (94th overall) — the Ravens texted his agent their intention to draft him 99th overall. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer shared the information (via Twitter).
  • Ravens 2013 sixth-rounder Kapron Lewis-Moore, who missed last season while recovering from a torn ACL, is participating in the team’s rookie minicamp, and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the big defensive lineman looks impressive.
  • Undrafted free agent guard Anthony Steen of Alabama has a realistic chance of making the Cardinals, believes Josh Weinfuss of
  • Offensive tackle J’Marcus Webb tried out for the Panthers, but was not immediately extended a contract, according to Aaron Wilson at National Football Post. Webb was a much-maligned three-year starter for the Bears (2010-12) before appearing in eight games (one start) for the Vikings last year.
  • Draftees are signing sooner than ever, writes’s Chris Brown, who explains why: “Even though the salary cap went up more than eight percent, there is a freeze on signing bonuses so all this year’s picks will get the same signing bonus as the players did last year who were taken in their draft slot. . .The reason why bonuses are staying flat is because teams borrowed money from future rookie pools (2012, 2013) after the lockout in 2011 to make sure that rookies that year wouldn’t be paid less than the rookies from 2010 prior to the readjustment in salary cap and the rookie wage scale. . .So essentially the only increases the 2014 draft class is seeing is in their base salaries.”


Pauline’s Latest: Dolphins, Donald, Latimer

In past years, we’d be gearing up for the NFL draft to begin in a matter of hours, but with this year’s event pushed back into May, we still have two more weeks of build-up until the big night. Tony Pauline of is helping to bridge that gap by continuing to pass along noteworthy tidbits on this year’s prospects. Here’s the latest from Pauline, with these notes coming from his latest blog entries unless otherwise indicated:

  • The Dolphins like offensive lineman Zack Martin, but don’t expect him to be available when they pick in the first round. Sources tell Pauline that Miami could end up trading down and targeting a player like Nevada’s Joel Bitonio — Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio isn’t expected to be a first-round option for the club. Bitonio, meanwhile, is also drawing interest from the Panthers and Buccaneers.
  • Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald figures to come off the board somewhere between picks No. 6 and 16, according to Pauline, who identifies the Falcons (6th), Giants (12th), Bears (14th), and Cowboys (16th) as potential landing spots.
  • At least 23 teams will travel to Bloomington, Indiana tomorrow for Cody Latimer‘s on-campus workout. Pauline hears that the receiver is one of the draft’s fastest risers, and even has a shot to be selected in the first round.
  • Fresno State wideout Davante Adams is working out with the Panthers for a second time. Adams has also visited the Lions, Chargers, and Falcons, and worked out for the Titans.
  • The Colts brought in Wisconsin safety Dez Southward for a pre-draft visit, according to Pauline.
  • The Steelers, Colts, and Eagles are displaying the most interest in Oregon defensive end Taylor Hart.
  • Wake Forest linebacker Justin Jackson is paying a visit to the Chiefs today, Pauline reports in a tweet.
  • The Jets have reps at Clemson today to work out quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Roderick McDowell, and linebacker Quandon Christian, tweets Pauline.
  • Pauline also reports (via Twitter) that the Packers, Patriots, and Chiefs are at Mississippi State today to work out quarterback Tyler Russell and safety Nickoe Whitley.

NFC East Notes: Redskins, Giants, Cowboys

DeSean Jackson might be getting all of the ink, but he’s not the only notable addition for the Redskins this offseason. Larry Michael of (video link) sat down with wide receiver Andre Roberts to talk about coming to D.C. Roberts likely came to the Skins thinking that he would be the No. 2 receiving option but he’ll be fighting for looks with Pierre Garcon and Jackson. The latest out of the NFC East..

  • Free agent guard Davin Joseph, who hasn’t generated many rumors since being released by the Buccaneers in early March, has met with the Cowboys, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, Moore adds that free agent receiver LaRon Byrd, after meeting with the Giants earlier this week, will work out for Dallas tomorrow.
  • The Cowboys also hosted Texas defensive tackle Chris Whaley for a visit yesterday and today, which included a dinner with members of the team’s staff, tweets Ian Rapoport of
  • Wisconsin defensive back Dez Southward visited the Redskins this week and has also worked out for the Patriots, reports Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. The speedy Southward is viewed as capable of playing at either safety position.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.