Around the NFC South

August, 19, 2012
8/19/12
11:49
AM ET
Time for a run through the NFC South Sunday headlines:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said he is not a big believer in running the ball frequently in the preseason. The Falcons haven’t done much of that and Koetter said it’s because he doesn’t want to wear his backs out before the regular season starts.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has looked very good in the preseason so far. Does it mean he has taken the next step? I don’t think you can say that after two preseason games. What he has done has been encouraging, but let’s see him do it in the regular season.

Middle linebacker Akeem Dent, who has been out with a concussion, has returned to practice.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Defensive end Charles Johnson said he’s aware of the criticism he gets from fans for not being dominant all the time. Hey, that’s a start. I’m not sure Julius Peppers, the last big talent the Panthers had at the position, ever was aware -- or cared about -- what fans thought of him.

Speaking of Peppers, now a Chicago Bear, he issued a statement emphatically saying a transcript that has surfaced from his college days at North Carolina showed no signs of fraud.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Bount is progressing from a groin injury, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to play in the preseason game this week.

The Bucs tried to work receiver Vincent Jackson into the game plan more Friday night, but the Titans used a lot of safety help and kept him quiet. I don’t think that’s going to be the norm in the regular season.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

In an upcoming episode of HBO’s “Real Sports’’ former New Orleans special-teams ace Steve Gleason said he was surprised no one seemed shocked when former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams talked so harshly about opponents prior to last season’s playoff loss to San Francisco.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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NFC SOUTH SCOREBOARD

Sunday, 11/23
Monday, 11/24