Time for a Friday morning look at the headlines from around the NFC South:
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Due to injuries, safety Roman Harper got some emergency work at nickel linebacker in the San Diego game. Mike Triplett writes the Saints should consider continuing to use Harper as the nickel linebacker even if the other linebackers get healthy. It’s a good point and something a lot of Saints fans have suggested for several years. Harper isn’t great when in deep coverage with wide receivers. But he’s a big hitter and he stands a better chance when covering tight ends and running backs.
Guard Carl Nicks, who left the Saints for the Buccaneers as a free agent in the offseason, said his departure wasn’t abount money. He said it was because the Saints didn’t view him as a premier player and leader. I don’t know if that’s really true. I think the Saints, and everyone else around the league, knew Nicks was a premier player. He was widely considered the best guard in the NFL in his later years with the Saints. I think this was mostly about money. The Saints were slow in making Nicks an offer, but I don’t think that was due to a lack of respect. I think it was because the team was trying methodically to figure out a way to sign quarterback Drew Brees to a long-term contract, keep some key players and make them all fit under the salary cap.
Scott Fowler predicts the Panthers will defeat the Cowboys by a point. I think that’s a long shot, considering the way the Panthers have played lately. But this is a last-stand game for the Panthers. If they lose this one, I think their season will spiral out of control in a hurry.
Geoff Hangartner has a nickname (“Piggy’’) that may not sound flattering. But Hangartner is one of the most intelligent players in the league. He reportedly scored a 47 on the Wonderlic test and that’s the best score ever by an offensive lineman. That’s why the Panthers aren’t too worried about sliding Hangartner from guard to center, a position he’s played in the past, to take the place of Ryan Kalil, who suffered a season-ending injury.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Receiver Mike Williams said he considers it disrespectful when he sees one-on-one coverage out of a defense. So far this season, Williams has been beating coverages and has been much more productive than last season when he went through a sophomore slump.
Dory LeBlanc points out that Tampa Bay’s defense hasn’t allowed a passing touchdown in the last three games, while Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games. One streak is going to come to an end Sunday when the Bucs host the Saints.
Daniel Cox writes about how the special teams, led by punter Matt Bosher, have been a strength. That's a tribute to patience by the coaching staff and front office. As a rookie last season, Bosher got off to a very rough start and fans were screaming for the Falcons to get rid of him. But the Falcons stuck with Bosher and that decision now is paying off.