Around the NFC South

November, 10, 2012
11/10/12
10:40
AM ET
Time for a run through the latest odds and ends from around the NFC South:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Although it’s well known the Saints and Falcons don’t like each other, most players from both teams kept quiet about the rivalry this week. But if you had to guess which guy would break from the routine and stir things up, you might have chosen Atlanta receiver Roddy White, who has a history of being outspoken. White stayed true to form Friday when he said he doesn’t like anything about the Saints or the city of New Orleans, except for its food.

CAROINA PANTHERS

There had been some speculation that rookie return man Joe Adams might be back in that job against Denver. Adams lost the job after fumbling twice in Week 3. But coach Ron Rivera said Adams again will be on the inactive list Sunday and Captain Munnerlyn will continue to return punts.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

With right tackle Zach Strief sidelined with a sports hernia, the Saints will turn to Charles Brown against the Falcons. Brown is a third-year pro that never has been able to earn a full-time starting job, so it’s a safe bet the Falcons will try to challenge him by moving John Abraham and Kroy Biermann around.

Despite everything that happened in a wild offseason, linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he never doubted he would play this season. Vilma faced a season-long suspension, but that’s tied up in the appeals process and he’s been able to play in four games since coming off the physically unable to perform list. Vilma also said he believes public opinion is turning in his favor -- and against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell -- in the bounty saga. I know that’s true in New Orleans, but I’m not so sure public opinion has turned in Vilma’s favor elsewhere.

One thing I like about linebacker Curtis Lofton is that he’s not afraid to share his feelings. When talking about why he chose to sign with the Saints instead of returning to the Falcons, Lofton said he wanted to be with a team that “celebrated’’ him, instead of a team that “tolerated’’ him. When it came right down to it, Lofton’s departure from Atlanta wasn’t about money. He entered free agency expecting a big contract, but quickly found out he wasn’t going to get it. The offer Atlanta had on the table was very similar to what he accepted from the Saints. But this one was about pride. The Falcons suddenly were implying that Lofton wasn’t an every-down linebacker, so he went to a place where he could be one.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Although Josh Freeman has put up big numbers the past four games, coach Greg Schiano said the quarterback still hasn’t hit his full potential. I tend to agree with that. Freeman seems to be getting more comfortable with the offensive system and his teammates each week, and it’s only logical that he continues to improve. That’s why I think the Bucs have a chance to go on a nice run in the second half of the season and at least challenge for a playoff spot.

Former Pittsburgh coach turned broadcaster Bill Cowher said the Bucs have built a foundation that could make them good for years to come. In other news, Cowher didn’t say anything about the Panthers, the team a lot of fans see him coaching next season.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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