- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Time for a quick check on some headlines from around the division:
I’ll have an item Friday on former New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Willie Roaf, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. But Roaf isn’t the only player with a tie to the NFC South getting inducted. D. Orlando Ledbetter has a nice feature on Chris Doleman, who spent two seasons with the Falcons in the 1990s. Doleman will become the fourth guy to play for the Falcons to go into the Hall of Fame. But you can make a case that, like Doleman, the other three didn’t really earn their yellow jackets in Atlanta. Receiver Tommy McDonald and running back Eric Dickerson had only brief stays with the Falcons. Deion Sanders was drafted by the Falcons and was with the team from 1989 until 1993, but you can make an argument that Sanders gained more fame when he went on to play for Dallas. Sanders also played for three other teams.
Mike Triplett writes that New Orleans running back Mark Ingram appears to be fully healthy after offseason procedures on his knee and toe. A first-round draft pick last year, Ingram had his rookie season interrupted by injuries. If he stays healthy, I think we’ll see more of Ingram this year. But, with Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory still on the roster, I think it’s safe to assume the Saints will continue to use the committee approach in the backfield.
After trading away Brian Price, Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said the starting job at nose tackle remains open. He said Roy Miller, Gary Gibson and Amobi Okoye are in the mix. But Okoye is more of a three-technique guy and could be used in rotation with Gerald McCoy. Miller and Gibson are more prototypical nose tackles. Gibson missed some early camp practices with an injury, but is back to work now. I’d look for the Bucs to keep looking at Miller and Gibson in camp and the first two preseason games and decide on a starter right around the third preseason game.
As a media member, especially one who covered the Panthers for most of John Fox’s tenure there, I continue to appreciate Ron Rivera’s candor. Unlike his predecessor, Rivera is willing to call out a player in the media. He did it here, saying defensive end Charles Johnson is doing what’s required, but the coach wants him to do more. I think that’s a pretty obvious motivational tactic by Rivera. He sees a guy who's produced 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Those are good numbers, but Johnson hasn’t been showing up on All-Pro teams. It’s pretty obvious Rivera is just trying to get Johnson to play at an even higher level.