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Friday, August 26, 2011
Hitting the NFC South links

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Lots of good headlines around the NFC South, including two (both involving the Bucs) that are pretty provocative.

My friend Mike Bianchi, who spent a large chunk of his life in Jacksonville, writes that instead of people talking about the Jaguars moving to Los Angeles, perhaps the Bucs should be in the conversation. As a Tampa resident, I’d argue that Tampa Bay is a much bigger market and the NFL likes having Super Bowls here. But I also must admit Bianchi brings up some pretty valid points about the state of Tampa Bay sports, at least when it comes to attendance.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera admitted he’s very concerned about the poor play of his defense in the last two preseason games. He should be. This defense has looked terrible. Yeah, middle linebacker Jon Beason has been out with an injury and that makes a big difference. But the Panthers are looking at the possibility of starting two rookie defensive tackles and there have been big problems in the secondary. Even after all the signings coming out of the lockout, it might be time for general manager Marty Hurney to get active as teams begin cutting players and a trade or two is not out of the realm of possibility.

Charlie Campbell throws out the idea of the Bucs trading for Tennessee running back Chris Johnson. Makes some sense because Johnson is from Orlando and the Bucs have a lot of salary-cap room. But Tampa Bay officials told Campbell that’s a real long shot. Plus, Titans coach Mike Munchak has said the team won’t trade Johnson. Still, it’s fun to speculate.

D. Orlando Ledbetter has his list of five things to watch when the Falcons play the Steelers. We’ll run our list of things to watch in this game on Saturday. We’ll do the same on Tampa Bay’s game with the Dolphins. On Sunday, we’ll have things to watch when the Saints play the Raiders.

The Bucs have given their players iPads with copies of the team’s playbook. Good for them, but they’re not the first team to go digital. Similar things have been done elsewhere in recent years.

Jeff Duncan writes about how the Saints need defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to play up to his potential to really make an impact on the defense.