Friday evening mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Dave in Carlisle PA writes: What is going on with Robert Meachem and Payton??? Is there a reason he isnt out on the field. He has the size to bring in balls and has the speed to get by defenders. A healthy Meachem looked great in the preseason and that was a nice catch last week for a td. Combine that with the fact that defensive coaching staffs really have no footage to gameplan with it just seems like it makes so much sense to have him out on that field. I like Hendersons ability to make a huge play but I personally enjoy seeing first downs rather than our defense after 3rd and outs. Please give me some insight into what is going on with Meachem this year.

Pat Yasinskas: That same question is on the minds of a lot of Saints' fans and it should be. Maybe last week was a turning point and will lead to more playing time for Meachem. The Saints are running out of receivers. If Meachem ever is going to prove he can play in this league, the time is now. Meachem was injured as a rookie and it took him time to learn the playbook. Last season was a waste for him. But you can't have two wasteful seasons in a row from a first-round pick, who appears to be healthy now. Throw him out on the field and see what he can do.


Pat Yasinskas: The Falcons just need to stick with the plan they have in place. Mike Smith wants to be able to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. That's not going to be easy every week and there will be bumps along the way. But Smith knows what he's doing and he's got some good parts in place. As far as Laurent Robinson, I thought he'd be a starter back in training camp. But Michael Jenkins beat him out. Robinson still could work his way back in as a starter. He just needs to be more consistent. He also needs to work on his blocking. I know that seems like a small thing for a wide receiver. But it's a big deal in Atlanta's system because Smith wants receivers who can help block for the running game.

Buccaneers in parts unknown writes: I've been a Bucs fan for as long as I can remember and year after year, draft after draft, we don't address the skill positions. When can we expect to see a QB of the future? Griese is an ok starter but not the future and Garcia isn't getting any younger. Who knows if Luke McCown or Josh Johnson are the answers. Not to mention that whoever the QB is going to be Joey Galloway isn't with us much longer and he's our only deep threat. Lets see more of Dexter Jackson besides special teams. Lets see what the future looks like for Bucs Nation.

Pat Yasinskas: Agree with you on Galloway and Dexter Jackson. But the Bucs are 2-1 and things are going well right now. I wouldn't count on any drastic lineup changes from Jon Gruden, who generally favors older players. But I think we still will be talking about who will be the Bucs' quarterback of the future in the spring. And, maybe in the spring of 2010.

Joseph in Franklinton, NC writes: I think the reason why the panthers lost the vikings was because they over rated themselve when steve smith returned. What u you think?

Pat Yasinskas: I think the bigger factor was they ran into a Minnesota team that was desperate and motivated. They got outplayed and maybe that will motivate the Panthers this week.

J in Raleigh writes: What are the Panther's weakest areas?

Pat Yasinskas: Last week, it was the offensive line. The Panthers gave up five sacks and had a bunch of penalties. The good news is it looks like left guard Travelle Wharton will be back from an injury and that will make the rest of the line better.

Chris in Las Vegas writes: Pat, Do you think that the Bucs might be better than people thought? and do you think they really showed they can find ways to win?

Pat Yasinskas: The Bucs found a way to win in Chicago. They threw the ball 67 times. But you can't do that every week. They need more balance in their offense. The capability is there with Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn as the running backs. They're a good team and I expect them to be in the division race all season.

Ryan in Lafayette, LA writes: Pat, would you agree with the assessment that Sean Payton cost the Saints the game against the Broncos? I mean, why not put Deuce in on short-yardage situations, or do something to stop the backside linebacker. And what about putting 5-foot-8-inch Jason David on 6-foot-4-inch Brandon Marshall; that's just asking to be thrown against. I know Daivd is Randall Gay's back-up, but why not switch McKenzie on Marshall? It doesn't make sense.

Pat Yasinskas: I think there certainly is room to question Payton's coaching. I'd love to see Deuce McAllister out there more. But Payton sees him every day in practice and it seems like he would play him if Deuce has anything left. As far as Jason David on Marshall, there's no legitimate way to justify that move. I know the secondary has struggled with injuries, but they could have created a better matchup on Marshall.

Sharell in Raleigh NC writes: What's your take on Brent Grimes of the Falcons? It appears that the coaching staff thinks highly of him. Do you think he will get a chance to do punt returns over the "average" Adam Jennigns? He appears to be a breath of fresh air over MeHall. I'll be at the game on Sunday, my first professional football game!!!

Pat Yasinskas: I know the Atlanta coaches were all fired up about Grimes in training camp. They thought he was one of the best athletes on the team. There was some concern about him picking up the defensive system, but I think he's shown now that he's done that. He's playing well and he makes a lot less money than DeAngelo Hall. As far as returning punts, I wouldn't do that. Grimes has made himself valuable as a cornerback and there's no need to give him more exposure to injury. Enjoy your first pro game.

Ian in Ocala, FL writes: Pat, What do you think about the way Brandon Lloyd exposed Rhonde Barber? Orton and Lloyd made Rhonde look down right silly, especially on the TD late in the game. Is Rhonde losing a step? Thanks, Ian

Pat Yasinskas: It's definitely a cause for concern and other teams will see that film and try to do something similar. Let's keep an eye on how Barber bounces back against Green Bay on Sunday. The Bucs know Barber can't go on forever and that's part of the reason they drafted Aqib Talib.