NFC South evening update

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
5:25
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. – I’m back at NFC South Blog headquarters. Time for a quick look at everything that’s going on around the division.

ATLANTA FALCONS

The Falcons will play the Baltimore Ravens with “replacement officials." Can anybody really spot any difference?

Fans are being asked to show up early for Thursday night’s game with Baltimore. Atlanta fans have drawn criticism for being fair-weather fans in the past. But being asked to show up early for preseason games is a pretty good sign that fans are serious about this season.

After a disappointing 2011 season Atlanta defensive end Ray Edwards appears to be healthy for 2012.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Carolina coach Ron Rivera ripped into his players Wednesday. Rivera isn’t really a rah-rah guy. But I’m thinking this was a motivational tactic by Rivera to fire up his team.

The Panthers are looking for more pass rushers. Defensive end Thomas Keiser is showing signs he can make that happen.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Despite all that’s happened with the Saints this offseason, the Patriots still have enormous respect for New Orleans. How can you even begin to argue with that? The Saints still are loaded at the offensive skill positions and I don’t know that the whole bounty drama is going to have much impact.

Although they are very different off the field, Bradley Hadwerger write about how New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and New England tight end Rob Gronksowski are similar on the field.

Assistant head coach Joe Vitt compared the New England Patriots to Microsoft. No argument here. The Patriots are the NFL’s ideal franchise, especially when you’re looking for teams that have handled adversity. The Saints can take a lesson here.

State police have handed over the findings to the FBI in an investigation into general manager Mickey Loomis perhaps listening to coaches of other teams. I’m no expert on this sort of thing, so I’ll leave it up to the state police and FBI.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

No matter how they would like to slice it, I’d call the case of Tampa Bay defensive lineman Jayme Mitchell as just another disgruntled player leaving the team. Mitchell had an outside shot of making the team as out an outside or interior player. He wasn’t making any progress at a spot that’s not filled with depth. There’s no shame here. If Mitchell can make another roster, good for him.

Former NFL general manager Bill Polian says attendance will come back if the Bucs start winning. No doubt about that. Tampa Bay’s economy has been hit hard, but fans will show up if the Bucs at least put a competitor on the field.

Cornerback Myron Lewis says his confidence is at an all-time high. It should be. Lewis, a third-round pick in 2010, needs to earn the trust of this coaching staff or else he could be looking for a job elsewhere.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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