Time for a Sunday plunge into the NFC South mailbag.
Ben in Suwanee, Ga., asks about the health of Tampa Bay defensive tackle Brian Price.
Pat Yasinskas: He’s recovering from a very complex surgery on his pelvis. He showed up at the players-only workouts the Bucs had in June, but wasn’t able to participate. He said he had only recently started running. I don’t see any way Price is ready for the start of training camp. I don’t know if he’ll be ready for the start of the season. The Bucs will probably have to open the year with Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller as their starters and they have some other young players who can provide depth. But it looks like it might be some time before the Bucs see any return from their second-round draft pick from a year ago.
James in Kings Mountain, N.C., asks what I meant when I said Jerry Richardson’s comment about Steve Smith not being on the forefront of his mind might have been made by design.
Pat Yasinskas: Obviously, Richardson’s been very busy with the labor negotiations and I think that was at least part of what he was referencing. However, Smith is a very sensitive personality. Richardson’s also a very smart man, who usually thinks before saying something. I think it’s at least possible Richardson was sending a message to Smith to be prepared as soon as the lockout is over to let the team know if he wants to be traded or not. Things are going to move very quickly once the labor situation is resolved and the Panthers don’t want drama hanging over them.
Justin in San Francisco commented on my “commissioner for a day" piece on putting a team in London and wonders if Mexico City might make more sense.
Pat Yasinskas: Although I think Roger Goodell has a strong desire to put a team in London, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Mexico City. The NFL has had some games there and the interest level has been high. The Texas teams already enjoy strong popularity in Mexico. Like London, it’s an untapped -- and very large -- market. I could see the NFL ending up there at some point. Heck, maybe the next expansion teams could be London and Mexico City.
JB in Valdez, Texas, asks how I can say that none of the Atlanta offensive linemen are stars.
Pat Yasinskas: Mainly because they’re not stars. Tyson Clabo’s probably the best of the bunch and scouts and coaches won’t tell you he’s a star. Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl are solid guards, but they’re far from spectacular. Todd McClure is a very reliable veteran center, but he’s nearing the end of his career. Left tackle Sam Baker hasn’t lived up to his status as a first-round pick. All that said, I think that group of linemen has done an excellent job of playing together as a unit the last few seasons. I think offensive line coach Paul Boudreau deserves a ton of credit for getting the most out of what he has to work with.
Sam in Norman, Okla., asks if Reggie Bush would rather take more money elsewhere or stay with the Saints and have a shot at more championships.
Pat Yasinskas: I’m not even going to attempt to read Reggie Bush’s mind. There have been athletes through the years who have been willing to take less money to play for a team they think has a chance to be great. There also have been others who have gone straight for the money. Once the labor situation is resolved, we should find out very quickly which category Bush falls into.
Shane in Hickory, N.C., wonders what kind of contract offer the Panthers might make to keep linebacker Thomas Davis.
Pat Yasinskas: That’s an interesting one because Davis is a fantastic player. But he’s coming back from two major knee injuries. If he were fully healthy, the Panthers -- and a lot of other teams -- would be willing to pay him big money. But he’s a huge question mark. Davis has said he wants to stay in Carolina and I’ve gotten inklings from the Panthers they would like to keep him. Obviously, nobody is going to offer Davis a huge contract with lots of guaranteed money. I suspect the Panthers might try to get a little creative and offer him a contract that’s heavy on incentives. That way, if he comes back as the player he was before the injuries, he’ll be well-compensated.