Around the NFC South

January, 11, 2012
1/11/12
9:41
AM ET
Let's take a look at the top Wednesday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

Jacksonville’s hiring of Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey as head coach probably means Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzkinski will be staying with the Panthers. Chudzinski also interviewed for the Jacksonville job. No other teams have asked permission to interview Chudzinski.

New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas is coming off one of the best games of his career. He had 121 all-around yards in the playoff victory against Detroit. Thomas, who was bothered by an ankle injury last year, said he’s healthy. The Saints have used Thomas in a rotation with Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory and all three running backs look fresh.

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said that after facing the Falcons he agrees with teammate Justin Tuck who previously said the Atlanta offensive line plays dirty. Funny, but the Atlanta offensive line wasn’t slowing Pierre-Paul down in Sunday’s playoff game.

Atlanta has 20 potential unrestricted free agents and the list is heavy on defensive players. Defensive end John Abraham, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, safety Thomas DeCoud and cornerback Brent Grimes are not under contract. I assume re-signing Lofton and Grimes will be at the top of Atlanta’s wish list. The Falcons have a fair amount of cap money and should be able to afford to keep both.

Marty Schottenheimer, who interviewed for Tampa Bay’s coaching job, said he’s intrigued by the young talent the Buccaneers have.

The Times-Picayune has its weekly graphic on Drew Brees’ passes. Take a look at what he did on deep passes against the Lions. I see only one incomplete pass.

Since the Bucs seem intent on going with an older coach, Charlie Campbell throws out a suggestion. He writes the Bucs should hire Monte Kiffin, who is the defensive coordinator at the University of Southern California. Kiffin hasn't been an NFL head coach. But he had a long run as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator and was very popular with the fans.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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