SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- I’ve been tied up much of the day, watching the Carolina Panthers practice and doing some interviews. So let’s use this time to catch up on what’s going on around the rest of the division.
LeGarrette Blount is listed as the No. 1 running back on the first unofficial depth chart of Tampa Bay’s preseason. I wouldn’t go reading too much into that, because team’s commonly list veterans as the starters early on. All indications out of Tampa Bay are that first-round draft pick Doug Martin will be the main running back once the Bucs get into the regular season.
The Bucs were supposed to have their final public practice of camp on Tuesday. But the team announced one additional public session will be held Aug. 14. Not a bad idea for a team that needs to sell tickets and continue connecting with its fan base.
Bradley Handwerger writes that the Saints will face distractions all season. There’s no doubt about that. The bounty scandal created an unprecedented offseason for the Saints. They’ve got plenty more drama on the horizon with general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt scheduled to start suspensions at the start of the regular season. But the Saints have enough veteran leadership that they should be able to handle the distractions better than a lot of teams. Also, it's pretty obvious the Saints are taking the attitude that the world is against them, and that's not a bad motivational tactic.
In this radio interview, Carolina center Ryan Kalil said the reason he took out a newspaper ad promising a Super Bowl victory was to excite the fans. Kalil said pretty much the same thing -- and some other things -- in an interview I did with him on Monday. I’ll be sharing more of the highlights of what Kalil had to say in the coming days.
Daniel Cox writes that Atlanta’s Harry Douglas appears to be the favorite to claim the job as punt returner, and Jacquizz Rodgers is the leader to be the kick returner. Makes plenty of sense. The Falcons have some young guys that have return skills, but might not be able to contribute elsewhere. Douglas is going to be the No. 3 receiver and Rodgers is likely to be the No. 2 running back. Both have speed and can contribute on special teams and on offense.