Around the NFC South

Time for a trip through a bunch of news and notes from around the NFC South.

San Francisco coach Mike Singletary said Wednesday he was wrong for not shaking hands with Atlanta coach Mike Smith on Sunday after the Falcons beat the 49ers. Look, I know it’s an emotional game and coaches are under enormous stress and can make poor decisions in the heat of the moment. But they also each are part of a 32-man fraternity. Smith is as much of a gentleman as any coach I’ve ever covered. No matter if you’re team just won or lost against the Falcons, you owe it to the man to shake his hand.

Leave it to Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco to come up with a new nickname for Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber. It’s a pretty flattering comparison.

Houston running back Derrick Ward took some pretty strong shots at the Buccaneers and said he’s blocked out his time in Tampa Bay. That’s good because the Bucs blocked that time out when they cut him. I’m going to stand up for the Bucs on this one. Ward came to Tampa last season with a bad attitude that never got better and he created his own destiny with the Bucs.

As you might have expected, Tampa Bay center Jeff Faine took exception to some of Ward’s comments.

Jon Beason, who questioned Julius Peppers’ intensity in a radio about a year ago, is singing a different tune about his former teammate these days. With the Bears coming to Carolina on Sunday, Beason said Peppers might go down as one of the best ever.

Maybe it’s in honor of Peppers’ homecoming, but Matt Williamson ranks the top 10 pass rushers in the league. Peppers is on the list. But there’s not a single guy on the list from the NFC South.

At least the winless Panthers may be catching one break this week. The Bears have said quarterback Jay Cutler will sit out after suffering a concussion. Veteran backup Todd Collins will start in his place.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a Philadelphia guy at heart. He was born and raised in the suburbs, talks with what some might call a Philadelphia accent (sounds normal to me) and grew up a Phillies fan. But he’s smart enough to know it’s not a good idea to wear a Phillies hat in Atlanta.