- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Before I head out to watch the Carolina Panthers in their first padded practice, let’s take a run through the headlines from around the division:
Kroy Biermann isn’t the only Atlanta defensive end getting some work at linebacker. Osi Umenyiora has been spending some time standing up. Biermann might be used in that capacity a lot, but I think the Falcons are probably just experimenting a bit with Umenyiora.
Jonathan Jones takes an in-depth look at how the Panthers do extensive background checks on players before they draft them. The Panthers always have looked at character, but owner Jerry Richardson made sure the team put more emphasis on it after the Rae Carruth saga.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Running back Mark Ingram said he wants to be more productive in his third season. I think there’s a good chance of that happening. Coach Sean Payton has said the Saints want to be more efficient at running the ball, and I think the Saints want to make sure Ingram, a first-round pick in 2011, gets more carries.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Co-chairman Bryan Glazer said ticket sales are going well and he’s confident the Bucs won’t have as many home games blacked out locally as they have in recent years. Tampa Bay had 19 home games blacked out in recent years.
Although he’s been very limited so far in camp because of a toe injury, guard Carl Nicks said he has no doubt he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener.