Time for a look at the top headlines from around the division.
Jeff Schultz writes that the Saints still are playing the “victim card’’ by saying they’ve been “railroaded’’ in the bounty scandal. It’s a point worth pondering. Sure, the suspended players have a right to the appeals process. But, if the suspensions are upheld, there comes a time when the Saints have to start moving forward.
Commissioner Roger Goodell knows he’s not a favorite among New Orleans fans these days. But Goodell insisted he has to act in the best long-term interest of the game and isn't worried about popularity contests.
Goodell said he would encourage Atlanta to bid to host a Super Bowl if the city gets a new stadium in the future. There’s a perception out there that Atlanta never will get another Super Bowl because the city was crippled by an ice storm when it last hosted the game in 2000. That was a fluke. If Atlanta does get a new stadium, it almost certainly will get a Super Bowl within a few years. That’s pretty much how things work in the NFL these days -- build a new stadium and you get a Super Bowl.
Mike Tolbert thinks he can be “the missing piece’’ for the Carolina Panthers. Remember how that worked out after Ray Edwards said he’d be essentially the same thing for the Atlanta Falcons last year? Tolbert’s got a real chance to help the Panthers. They’re saying he was brought into play fullback and I’m sure he will. But Tolbert’s versatile and I think he’ll also get some playing time in a backfield that already includes DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. But Tolbert just needs to be one of many pieces for the Panthers. Their offense already is good, but they need a lot of pieces to emerge on defense.
Check out this column by Daniel Cox. It discusses the possibility of the NFC South being the NFL’s strongest division when it comes to quarterbacks. I think there’s a pretty strong case for that. Drew Brees has a great track record and Matt Ryan has a good one. If Cam Newton can build on his outstanding rookie season and Josh Freeman can get back to his 2010 form, I don’t think there’s any way any other division has as deep a crop of starting quarterbacks.
Yet another difference between new Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano and predecessor Raheem Morris. Instead of “beating the heat’’ the way Morris did by practicing early or practicing indoors at practice field, Schiano wants to embrace the Florida heat and use it to get his team in better physical condition.