Posted by Andy Benoit
Bucs @ Falcons
The Bucs will once again be without starting offensive linemen Jeff Faine (quad) and Jeremy Trueblood (knee). Also missing is fullback Earnest Graham, which is noteworthy because his lead-blocking abilities fit perfectly in what has become a strict power run approach for this offense. Wideout Sammie Stroughter did not practice all week due to a foot injury. Thus, rookie Arrelious Benn has a chance to start carving out a true niche in this offense (Benn caught a 53-yard touchdown pass last week, but that’s basically been the extent of his contributions).
The Falcons likely will not have OLB Sean Weatherspoon; the first-round rookie has been out since Week 5 with a knee injury. Fullback Ovie Mughelli is questionable with a hamstring. That’s crucial because Atlanta’s best approach against this Tampa Bay D is to pound them between the tackles on the ground.
Saints @ Panthers
Does Drew Brees have a fractured knee and torn meniscus or not? The Saints are saying no – in fact, Brees is not even listed on the injury report. Running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas are both still out (Bush is technically listed as doubtful this week). Rookie CB Patrick Robinson is out with an ankle, though the Panthers do not have the aerial firepower to take advantage anyway. Besides, both Saints starting corners, Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer, who missed the Steeler game, are probable after practicing all week.
Carolina’s 28th-ranked rushing attack will once again be missing RT Jeff Otah (knee) and RB DeAngelo Williams (foot).
Giants @ Seahawks
No Shaun O’Hara for New York. Thus, Adam Koets, who has decent movement skills but lacks O’Hara’s nastiness and veteran shrewdness at the second level in the run game, will be the fulcrum of the offensive line. The Giants are coming off a bye, which explains why basically everyone else (save for OT Will Beatty and FB Madison Hedgecock) is healthy.
The Seahawks are starting Charlie Whitehurst in place of injured Matt Hasselbeck (concussion). Rookie receiver Golden Tate (ankle) is also out for Seattle. And, likely, so is rookie LT Russell Okung (ankle). Because Tyler Polumbus is questionable with a knee injury – and, frankly, because he does not begin to have quick enough feet to handle Osi Umenyiora – the Seahawks will likely turn to veteran Chester Pitts.
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