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Around the NFC South

7/11/2011

Time for a run through the headlines around the NFC South.

Atlanta receiver Kerry Meier, who missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury, said he’s nearly back to full health. I think the Falcons have plans for this young receiver, who is big and versatile, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they bring him along slowly. Look what they did with receiver Harry Douglas and defensive tackle Peria Jerry as they came back from injuries in recent years.

During his recent workout at IMG Academies in Florida, Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton was dropping back on virtually every snap. In college, he operated almost entirely out of the shotgun formation.

Carolina’s Jimmy Clausen said he’s not ready to hand over the starting job to Newton without a fight.

D. Orlando Ledbetter’s been running a series on if the Falcons should re-sign a long list of players not currently under contract for 2011. The latest is return man/receiver Eric Weems. I cast my vote and said the Falcons need to keep him. The reason is simple: The guy had a very nice year as a returner last season and also has potential as a wide receiver.

A spokesman for Wofford College’s athletic department said the Carolina Panthers are expected to inform officials at some point this week if they’ll be coming to Spartanburg for training camp. The lockout already has forced several teams to decide to hold training camp at their regular-season facilities. It would be a shame if the Panthers don’t train in Spartanburg for the first time since the team came into the league. Wofford is one of the nicest training-camp venues in the league and it also helps the team’s presence in South Carolina. Remember, when owner Jerry Richardson got his expansion team he named it the Carolina Panthers because he wanted to represent North and South Carolina.

Jerious Norwood doesn’t think the Falcons are interested in re-signing him. Gee, wonder how he figured that one out? The guy’s been a non-factor due to injuries the past few years and Jason Snelling has emerged as Michael Turner’s backup. The Falcons also used a fifth-round draft pick on running back Jacquizz Rodgers.

Charlie Campbell predicts the Bucs won’t re-sign free-agent running back Cadillac Williams. I think he might be right. Some effort might be made to keep Williams, but I think he’ll test the market and might get a better offer elsewhere. If he leaves, Tampa Bay will have to go out and get someone who can be a backup to LeGarrette Blount and handle some third-down situations.

ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said the New Orleans Saints are one of the top four or five teams in the NFL.

Although Tiki Barber has been throwing out the Bucs as a possible landing spot as he attempts an NFL comeback, his brother Ronde, who plays for Tampa Bay isn’t so sure it’s realistic that his twin will be joining him. Ronde Barber’s right on this one. The Bucs are committed to their youth movement and a 36-year-old running back doesn’t fit their profile.