Sunday, May 22, 2011
Around the NFC South
By Pat Yasinskas
Time for a Sunday stroll through the NFC South headlines.
Despite the lockout, the New Orleans Saints had no problem selling season tickets. They had a 98-percent renewal rate and sold out the last of their 73,000 season-tickets last week. The Saints have sold out the Superdome, which is undergoing renovations, every year since the facility reopened in 2006.
Despite the fact he missed part of his college career with a neck injury and will be moving from middle to outside linebacker, New Orleans rookie Martez Wilson said he won’t be impacted negatively by the NFL learning curve. Others who have coached him, or soon will, agree.
Tim Dahlberg wonders when NFL players will start to feel the pressure of the labor situation. He said the time for a sense of urgency is coming soon. I think it will really hit if the lockout is in place when July rolls around and players are only a few weeks away from training camp and the prospect of missed reporting bonuses for some.
Friend Brad Gagnon, perhaps Canada’s finest football writer, has a list of the 10 most famous players in the NFL. Two NFC South players made it. New Orleans’ Drew Brees came in at No. 4, one spot ahead of Carolina rookie Cam Newton. What about Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman. Well, they don’t have mass appeal or a playoff victory. Newton hasn’t even played an NFL game, but, like Tim Tebow, who came in at No. 3, he comes with intrigue and a big following.
Scott Reynolds writes about how Tampa Bay rookie tight end Luke Stocker aspires to have a career like Dallas’ Jason Witten. Both tight ends played in college at Tennessee.
Barrett Ruud tells Stephen Holder he’s confident his body of work will give him value as a free agent, whenever the lockout is lifted. As far as re-signing with the Bucs, Ruud wouldn’t say a lot. There are a lot of fans out there that seem to think the decision is up to the Bucs, which might be true to some degree. But I think Ruud is frustrated the Bucs never stepped forward with the offer of a contract extension over the past couple of years. In other words, I think Ruud wants out of Tampa Bay and knows he can get a nice contract and a starting job somewhere else.