A quick look at the news being generated at training camps around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers division:
The Buccaneers and Falcons were the two teams to celebrate victories on opening day, while Carolina left Tampa with an 0-1 record and the Saints dropped their first home game since the Bucs visited at the end of the 2010 season. The Falcons' victory was tempered somewhat by the loss of cornerback Brent Grimes to an Achilles injury; on the other hand, the Panthers took several good things out of their loss in Tampa, including the health and strong play of linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis.
In Atlanta, the Falcons are adjusting to a significant injury in much the same way the Buccaneers are moving on after the loss of Pro Bowl guard
In Carolina, the Panthers are speaking confidently despite their season-opening loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday. Head Coach Ron Rivera pointed to problems on the offensive line that led to three Tampa Bay sacks and kept dangerous runner Cam Newton contained all day. "More than anything else, we had a couple of one-on-ones that we flat-out lost," said Rivera. "The encouraging part is that can be corrected. It wasn't anything schematically or something lacking in an individual; it was a player here, a player there and something that they did. I'm comfortable that we'll be able to correct and improve and get better." The Panthers were also encouraged to finish the game with no significant injuries, and they hope to get running back Jonathan Stewart back for Week Two after he sat out the game in Tampa due to an ankle ailment. Among the healthy are key linebackers Beason and Davis, both of whom are returning to action after missing almost all of the 2011 campaign with Achilles and knee injuries, respectively. With rookie Luke Kuechly in the mix, as well, the Panthers have a much different look at linebacker this year, one that Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano referred to as extremely physical on Monday. It was Beason and Davis who combined to stop Bucs RB
In New Orleans, the Saints were the first NFL opponent to get a full 60-minute taste of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, and Griffin looked like he could be this year's version of 2011 sensation Cam Newton. Washington left the Superdome with a 40-32 victory in Griffin's debut, though the Saints and their own prolific offense rallied to make it close. Like Rivera, Saints acting Head Coach Aaron Kromer wasn't worried about what the loss meant to his team's playoff hopes, though he did acknowledge that it put added emphasis on next Sunday's game in Carolina. "We need to win this game this week," he said. "it's important to our program. It's important to our psyche. Is it a win-or-lose-this-season game? No, it isn't. There are 16 games. The New York football Giants were 9-7 in the regular season and won the Super Bowl." There is obviously some concern about the readiness of recently-reinstated linebacker Jonathan Vilma to play, as the team placed him on the reserve/physically unable to perform list on Monday. Vilma, who was going to sit out the season on a league suspension based on the "bounty" investigation, became eligible to play before the opener but will now miss at least six weeks while he continues his rehabilitation from a knee injury. The Saints gave up 464 total yards to Griffin and the 'Skins on Sunday, so are obviously looking for whatever boost they can get on defense, but Vilma now won't be available until close to midseason.