Around the NFC South


Time for a look at some odds and ends from around the division:


D. Orlando Ledbetter has middle linebacker Akeem Dent at No. 15 on his list of the top 25 Falcons. He played primarily on running downs last year, but may get a chance to become a three-down player this year. If Dent shows he can cover tight ends, he could make outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas into a two-down player.


Max Henson has an overview of the offensive line. The guy I’m keeping an eye on is rookie guard Edmund Kugbila. I think the fourth-round pick could have a shot at a starting job.


Speaking of the Falcons and every-down linebackers, they let middle linebacker Curtis Lofton leave as a free agent last year because they didn’t think he’d be a three-down player in coordinator Mike Nolan’s system. Lofton landed in New Orleans, where the Saints kept him on the field almost all the time and he quickly became a leader of the defense. That’s why he’s ranked No. 7 in the Times-Picayune’s list of the top 25 Saints.


Stephen Holder writes that the recent contract extension for Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford could be used as a guideline if the Bucs eventually decide to give Josh Freeman a long-term deal. Although he clearly needs to improve his consistency, Freeman has a better winning percentage as a starter than Stafford.