NFC South quick hits

As we get ready for Thursday night’s preseason games involving the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons (I’ll be back with observations on both games soon after they end), let’s take a look at some news and notes from around the division:

  • With Mike Johnson out for the season with an injury, the Falcons are giving Lamar Holmes the first shot at the right tackle job. Holmes faces a big challenge Thursday night when he goes against Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, a pair of strong pass-rushers. If Holmes holds up well against the Ravens, he’s likely to get the nod as the starter.

  • Jonathan Jones tops his list of five players to watch in Carolina’s game with Philadelphia with wide receiver David Gettis, who appears to be competing with Joe Adams and Kealoha Pilares for the final receiver spot. Gettis, who has been plagued by injuries the past two years, showed a little burst in the preseason opener. He’ll need to continue that to secure a roster spot.

  • In this Insider piece, Matt Williamson ranks Carolina’s linebacker corps among the best in the league. Can’t argue with that, but I think you have to attach the caveat that Jon Beason and Thomas Davis need to stay healthy for this group to truly be elite.

  • With linebacker Jonathan Vilma having another knee surgery, Bradley Handwerger writes that this is an opportunity for David Hawthorne to step up. Hawthorne was signed to a decent contract last year but hasn’t done a lot for the Saints. Vilma’s age and history of knee problems leave questions about his durability. Hawthorne could put himself in line for a lot of playing time with a good performance over the next few weeks.

  • Ross Tucker writes that the comments by Carl Nicks, in which the Tampa Bay guard said he’ll have to play through pain for the rest of his career, didn’t draw as much attention as they should have. Tucker, a former player, says that toe injuries can’t be taken lightly. But Nicks and the Bucs think he still can play at a high level.