Atlanta Falcons: Defensive end Derrick Shelby (groin) was placed on injured reserve, becoming the seventh Atlanta player put on the list this season. He is the fourth on the defensive side — safeties Keanu Neal (knee) and Ricardo Allen (Achilles) are done for the season and middle linebacker Deion Jones (foot) was recently removed from the list but hasn’t played in a contest. Shelby also missed time with a groin injury earlier this season. The offensive players on injured reserve are running back Devonta Freeman (groin) and guards Brandon Fusco (ankle) and Andy Levitre (triceps).
Carolina Panthers: Three consecutive losses have left the Panthers in a precarious position entering Sunday’s road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carolina was just one game behind New Orleans in the NFC South race prior to the slide and now sit four games back in the division as well as being on the outside of the wild-card chase. One issue has been a pattern where opponents routinely answer Carolina scores with points of their own. “If the offense scores and then we can go out and get a three-and-out and get our offense back on the field, the momentum is definitely in our favor,” cornerback Captain Munnerlyn told reporters. “We have to be better in those situations. You can’t whine or cry about it now. It’s over. It’s done. Let’s get ready for Tampa Bay.”
New Orleans Saints: The Saints average an NFL-best 37.2 points per game and have tallied at least 40 on six occasions. But they are concerned about facing Dallas on Thursday night with the Cowboys notching five interceptions and eight sacks during a three-game winning streak. “Defensively, they fly around, they’re very well-coached, disciplined, they are taking the ball away,” New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees told reporters. “They are just doing all the things that the great defenses do: getting pressure on the quarterback, good against the run. So really in every facet of what you would say is winning football, championship-caliber football, these guys are doing it right now.” The Cowboys rank third in scoring defense (19.4) and tied for fourth against the run (93.6 yards per game).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Linebacker Lavonte David (knee) and safety Justin Evans (toe) returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the past two games. Both were limited participants and both are expected to be available against the Panthers on Sunday. David has a team-best 71 tackles and Evans is second with 54, so it was no surprise how happy coach Dirk Koetter was to see both players on the field. “It was great having him back out there today,” Koetter said of David. “Lavonte’s one of the most respected players on our team — a team captain. We got Lavonte back today, we got Justin Evans back somewhat today. That’s a big boost to everyone’s morale out there.”
—Field Level Media