Let’s take a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said a failed conditioning test was not the reason the Buccaneers decided to trade defensive tackle Brian Price to Chicago. Dominik said the decision was based on multiple factors and pointed to the other defensive tackles on the roster as a reason. I think you can read between the lines and figure this one out. Price’s personal situation is well known. He has struggled emotionally since the death of his sister in a car accident in the spring. He’s also had injury problems in the past. With a new regime that doesn’t seem to have a lot of time for drama, I think the Bucs simply decided Price wasn’t a good fit.
Speaking of guys the Bucs no longer viewed as good fits, they also released receiver Dezmon Briscoe. He also failed the conditioning test. Briscoe missed part of the offseason program while dealing with some personal issues. Besides that, the Bucs have a bunch of young receivers with potential that were around for the entire offseason.
Here’s an uplifting story about Carolina rookie safety D.J. Campbell, who has overcome significant adversity. His father was sent to prison after killing his mother when Campbell was just a child. He was raised by an aunt and turned to sports to help him get through the tragedy.
Ron Green Jr. has a list of key questions as the Panthers begin camp. It starts with the most common question -- will quarterback Cam Newton hit the sophomore slump? I just don’t see it happening. The guy set records with no offseason program last year. With a full offseason program, I think he will only continue to progress.
Atlanta rookie offensive tackle Lamar Holmes has been cleared to practice after missing offseason time with a foot injury. But don’t count on Holmes stepping right into the starting lineup. He likely will work as the third left tackle, behind Sam Baker and Will Svitek.
Coach Mike Smith sounds confident second-year pro Akeem Dent is ready to be the starting middle linebacker. Smith’s optimism might stem partially from the fact that he has asked veteran Mike Peterson to serve as Dent’s mentor. Peterson’s near the end of his career, but he’s got even extra value this year. Peterson always has been a vocal leader. He’s also the kind of guy that is willing to help a young player, even if it costs him playing time.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
A federal judge decided not to make an immediate ruling on whether or not to give an injunction that would at least temporarily halt the season-long suspension of New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Not sure exactly when the judge will make a decision, but we’ll let you know as soon as it comes.
Although his rookie season was interrupted by injuries and he had some offseason surgeries, New Orleans running back Mark Ingram says he’s fully healthy. That’s positive news, but Ingram still will have to have an impressive camp to earn playing time in a backfield that also includes Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory.
Receiver Lance Moore made the most spectacular play on the first day of camp. He caught a long pass despite good coverage by safety Malcolm Jenkins. But it should be noted, the ball went right through the hands of Jenkins, who did not record an interception last season.