- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter
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1. Certain New Orleans linebackers and defensive linemen. There’s no exact list, but it was guys from those two position groups who went out and posed for pictures on the Atlanta Falcons’ logo after Monday night’s game. The Saints say it was harmless and that they frequently take pictures to commemorate big victories. But there are unwritten rules in the NFL and these guys might have broken a big one by at least giving the appearance they were gloating. Not a real good idea because the Saints could end up coming back to the Georgia Dome in the playoffs and you can bet that Atlanta coach Mike Smith is going to have photos of the Saints celebrating hanging all over his locker room.
2. Roddy White, wide receiver, Falcons. If you’re going to spout off on Twitter or anywhere, it’s a good idea to come out and back it up. White didn’t quite do that with his 43 receiving yards in Monday night’s loss to the Saints.
3. Matt Ryan, quarterback, Falcons. He didn’t have a disastrous game against the Saints, but Ryan needs to win a few more games like that before we firmly put him in the elite category or put him ahead of Drew Brees.
1. Frank Okam, defensive tackle, Buccaneers. It’s only one game, but Okam took a big stride in possibly shedding the underachiever label that’s been with him for most of his career. In Sunday’s victory against Seattle, Okam played a major role in shutting down the running game. With rookie starters Gerald McCoy and Brian Price lost to injuries, Okam stepped in and produced seven tackles, including two for losses. With McCoy, Price and Roy Miller all returning next year, Okam has a good chance to stick around as the fourth tackle for the long haul.
2. Drew Brees, quarterback, Saints. He didn’t have a great game by any measure Monday night. But, when it mattered most, Brees drove his team 90 yards to victory. That’s why he’s firmly in the “elite’’ category.
3. Myron Lewis and E.J. Biggers, cornerbacks, Buccaneers. Things really could have gotten out of hand after Aqib Talib, Tampa Bay’s best cornerback, went down with a season-ending injury. But Biggers and Lewis have stepped up and kept Tampa Bay’s secondary respectable. Biggers has been starting and Lewis, who wasn’t a factor early in his rookie season, has taken over as the nickelback and played well. Biggers and Lewis were part of the reason Seattle’s Mike Williams caught only two passes Sunday.
FALLING1. Certain New Orleans linebackers and defensive linemen. There’s no exact list, but it was guys from those two position groups who went out and posed for pictures on the Atlanta Falcons’ logo after Monday night’s game.