- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Time for a look at the Thursday morning headlines from around the NFC South:
John Manasso writes that cornerback Dunta Robinson finally is playing up to the expectations for him after he signed a big contract with the Falcons in 2010. I’m not sure that Robinson was a total bust in his first two seasons in Atlanta, but he certainly didn’t make many big plays. Robinson is starting to make big plays now. I think that has a lot to do with the arrival of coordinator Mike Nolan. A lot of guys on this defense that didn’t make big plays in the past are starting to make them.
In a conference call with the Oakland media, tight end Tony Gonzalez fondly recalled his many games against the Raiders while he was playing for Kansas City. Gonzalez will face the Raiders on Sunday for the first time since he left the Chiefs.
Although the team hasn’t asked officially yet for financial assistance with planned renovations of Bank of America Stadium, the Charlotte City Council has told city staff to meet with the Panthers. Team owner Jerry Richardson got the stadium built without any taxpayer money, but it sounds like the Panthers wouldn’t be opposed to getting some public funding as they try to upgrade the stadium.
The newborn son of tight end Greg Olsen will have the first of three scheduled open-heart surgeries on Thursday.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Although the NFL claims it interviewed former Minnesota defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy about the alleged bounty program, Kennedy is denying he ever met with NFL officials about the matter.
Gary Estwick writes that linebacker Curtis Lofton has been a bright spot for the defense. That’s true, but Lofton probably has been the only bright spot and he can’t carry a defense all by himself.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The Tampa Tribune reports that Oct. 20 will be declared Lee Roy Selmon Day. Selmon was the first draft pick in franchise history and went on to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He passed away in 2011.
Tom Jones writes that Sunday’s game against the Chiefs is pretty close to a must-win situation for the Bucs. He’s right. The Bucs have been getting a bit of a pass early on because they have a new coaching staff and they have shown improvement in some areas. But there comes a time when it should become clear that a new coaching staff has a team headed in the right direction. A victory against a struggling team like the Chiefs shouldn’t be that difficult to come by and it would be a small, but positive, step for the Bucs.