Questions from down South
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
As training camps end, here's a look at the biggest remaining question for each of the division's teams.
Who's the quarterback? Even coach Mike Smith doesn't know for sure. He'll start Joey Harrington on Saturday night and Chris Redman got the start last week. Top draft pick Matt Ryan, presumably, will get a start in the third preseason game. He's looked good throughout camp and in the preseason opener. The Falcons don't want to rush Ryan, who they want to be the face of the franchise. But he's showing signs he might be ready to play right away.
Who's the featured running back? All my fantasy football friends are asking me this question about Carolina and I'm telling them to stay away from Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. But that's just for the purposes of fantasy football because I think the carries will be split between the two. In real life, this could be a pretty good duo. Stewart has power and Williams has speed.
Is the defense really going to be better? Yes. Even with the loss of defensive tackle Hollis Thomas to injury this week, this defense will be improved. It couldn't be much worse than last year and the arrival of rookie defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and cornerbacks Randall Gay and Tracy Porter gives the Saints a lot more talent than they had last season.
Can this team start fast after having some key players miss most of training camp? It's going to be tough because the Bucs already are trying to catch up. Quarterback Jeff Garcia has just returned to practice after an injury and top receiver Joey Galloway didn't practice once in camp. The Bucs may just be resting Galloway because of his age, but he's got to get some practice time with Garcia in the next few weeks to knock the rust off. The rest of the offense has to get used to Garcia again. Left tackle Luke Petitgout and running back Cadillac Williams could start the season on the physically unable to perform list.