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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Hitting the NFC South links

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

A morning look at the headlines from around the NFC South.

Atlanta offensive line coach Paul Boudreau says the competition at right guard between Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson will go right down to the wire.

The NFC has had a different champion each of the last 10 seasons. Elliott Harrison makes the case why the Falcons can keep that streak going. Each of the other three NFC South teams have won the NFC during that span.

Rookie defensive tackle Terrell McClain has started to get some work with Carolina’s first-team defense. Look for him to move ahead of Corvey Irvin before all is said and done. The Panthers are high on McClain’s potential and never have seen all that much out of Irvin.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton said the knee injuries to guard Carl Nicks and running back Mark Ingram are minor. Nicks has a contusion and should return to practice after Sunday’s preseason game with Oakland. Ingram experienced some swelling and is only expected to miss a few days of practice.

The Bucs don’t know if cornerback Aqib Talib will be suspended by the NFL, but coach Raheem Morris said they’re ready for that possibility. Morris said the Bucs will follow the “next man up’’ philosophy. In this case, that’s E.J. Biggers, who has started before. The larger question might be who would step into Biggers’ place at nickel back. Second-year pro Myron Lewis has potential, but Ashton Youboty and Elbert Mack have more experience.