Around the NFC South

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
8:59
AM ET
A look at the top Monday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

Although the Saints have been preaching an “us-against-the-world’’ mentality, Jeff Duncan writes that they risk turning it into “us against us’’ the longer the Drew Brees contract situation drags on. This thing has been lingering for a long time and Brees has started showing some displeasure. The Saints have the upper hand that comes with the franchise tag. But Brees isn’t going to be happy if he has to play for the franchise tag. There are a lot of unhappy people in New Orleans these days. The Saints don’t need the leader of their team going through an entire season in a bad mood.

With Brees staying away from the team’s offseason program, backup Chase Daniel is expected to work with the first team when the Saints hit the field Tuesday. Daniel said he’s ready to try to take advantage of the work with the first team.

Despite the wishes of their fans, the Carolina Panthers haven’t added a veteran receiver to go with Steve Smith. That may be because the Panthers want Brandon LaFell in the No. 2 job. Coach Ron Rivera said he’s encouraged by what he saw out of LaFell last season. But Rivera also made it a point to say LaFell hasn’t arrived. I think that’s a pretty clear message to LaFell that he has to continue to grow.

A league expert said the goal of Jonathan Vilma’s lawsuit against Roger Goodell isn’t so much to technically win as it is to compel the NFL to produce evidence of a bounty program.

New Atlanta linebacker Lofa Tatupu says he has to earn the respect of his new teammates as he attempts to win the starting job in the middle. Tatupu has a big challenge in front of him. He hasn’t played since the 2010 season in Seattle and, in a perfect world, the Falcons would like second-year pro Akeem Dent to win the job. But Tatupu had some very productive years with the Seahawks. If he can get back to that form, he could end up in the starting job.

Mike Williams said that free-agent pickup Vincent Jackson quickly has become the leader of Tampa Bay’s receiving corps. That’s a good thing because Jackson is a proven player and has been productive for a long time. The rest of Tampa Bay’s receiving corps has some potential. But Williams and the other receivers are very young and desperately need a leader to follow.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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