Around the NFC South

Time for a look at some Friday headlines from around the NFC South.

D. Orlando Ledbetter writes that there has been a lot of focus on the tight ends during Super Bowl practices. That may have a lot to do with the success of tight ends like San Francisco’s Vernon Davis and New England’s Rob Gronkowski and the play of almost all the NFC South tight ends during the regular season. It’s possible we could see some NFC South teams draft tight ends this year because the position has become more important than ever. The Saints could look for depth behind Jimmy Graham. Same for the Panthers, who could one someone to team with Greg Olsen if Jeremy Shockey isn’t re-signed. Although Tony Gonzalez hasn’t showed many signs that he’s slowing down, the Falcons may want to find an heir apparent. Tampa Bay’s Kellen Winslow has a history of knee problems and the Buccaneers could look for insurance.

Although he’s about to play in his first Pro Bowl, Graham said the wounds from the playoff loss to San Francisco remain very fresh.

Rick Stroud throws out a couple of names as possible assistants for new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. The Bucs have reportedly requested permission to interview Arizona receivers coach John McNulty, who spent some time as offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Rutgers under Schiano. McNulty also had a stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars and is the most famous person ever to come out of Abington Heights High School in Clarks Summit, Pa. Former NFL and college head coach Butch Davis also is mentioned as a possible candidate to be an assistant.

There’s a report that Brad Childress could be headed to Cleveland as the offensive coordinator. Childress interviewed for the head coaching job in Tampa Bay. There were also some rumblings that Childress could have ended up as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator if Mike Sherman got the job. Although it sounds like Childress probably will join the Browns, I still wouldn’t rule out completely the possibility of the Bucs making a late run at Childress as their coordinator. Schiano probably wants someone with NFL experience as offensive coordinator because his own background is on defense.

Although he has no problem with the hiring of Schiano, who once worked as defensive coordinator at the University of Miami, Winslow said he would have preferred Carolina’s Rob Chudzinski, who was a finalist for the job. That’s because Chudzinski was Winslow’s tight ends coach at the University of Miami. Chudzinski will apparently remain as Carolina’s offensive coordinator. But, if the Carolina offense has another big season, Chudzinski’s going to be a hot candidate for a job as a head coach next year.