Around the NFC South

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
10:48
AM ET
Let's take a look at the Thursday morning headlines from around the NFC South:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Matt Ryan continues to be talked about as an MVP candidate, but the quarterback doesn’t want to hear it. That’s exactly what I’d expect from Ryan, who doesn’t like to be praised publicly. If he continues as an MVP candidate, I’m sure his company line will be that he’ll just do his job and everything else will take care of itself.

Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall and Atlanta coach Mike Smith said they’ve made up after an incident in a 2009 game where things got a little physical. But Hall’s always been an emotional player, so anything’s possible Sunday when he faces the team that first drafted him.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Free safety Haruki Nakamura shaved his head as part of symbolic fresh start. Nakamura knows things have to change if he’s going to hold onto his starting job. Nakamura had a disastrous outing Sunday in Atlanta, but the Panthers have said he will remain as the starter.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has been overwhelmed with ticket requests for Sunday’s game at Carolina. That’s understandable because Wilson has deep ties to the area. He spent three years at NC State and played minor-league baseball in North Carolina. Wilson said he’s told some friends they may have to find their own tickets because he’s got to concentrate on getting ready for the game.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Running back Darren Sproles had a rare and crucial drop in the loss to Green Bay. So he and Drew Brees stayed after practice Wednesday and ran the same play a bunch of times. Brees made it a point to let it be known Sproles caught the pass every time.

Although Brees has taken some shots in the past at the San Diego Chargers for giving up on him, he said he has a good relationship with the quarterback that replaced him. Brees said he and Philip Rivers, his former backup, worked well together when they were teammates and remain friends.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

The Bucs have used the bye week to try to convince quarterback Josh Freeman to put his trust in their offensive system, the play calls and his training. The early bye might have come at a good time for Freeman. He’s had some bright moments, but needs to be much more consistent.

Another point of emphasis during the bye week has been to find ways for rookie Doug Martin to get some more explosive runs. Martin’s longest run so far has been 17 yards. But the blame for that shouldn’t all fall on Martin. Tampa Bay’s offensive line still is searching for continuity after losing Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph to injury late in the preseason.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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