Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Time for a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that wide receiver Marques Colston has been cleared to play Sunday at Jacksonville. Colston broke his collarbone in the season opener and missed the past two games. The Saints won both of those, but quarterback Drew Brees should be even more dangerous with his top target back on the field. Cornerback Tracy Porter, who has missed the past two games, also practiced fully.

D. Orlando Ledbetter writes that the Falcons might be missing guard Harvey Dahl more than they thought they would. Dahl, who left via free agency, was the only departure from an offensive line that went from being good to very bad. I’m sure Dahl’s absence is playing some role in the decline. But it wasn’t like Dahl was the most talented player on the line. This unit has overachieved for several years and maybe reality is finally setting in.

Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris at first said he couldn’t award cornerback Ronde Barber a game ball because he didn’t return his interception for a touchdown against Atlanta. Morris later relented and gave the veteran a game ball.

It appears as if the Saints will be without right tackle Zach Strief, who suffered a knee injury for some time. That means second-year pro Charles Brown is the likely starter. Brown has lots of potential, but very little experience. He barely played last year and missed offseason workouts after having back surgery.

Chicago coach Lovie Smith called defensive end Julius Peppers the most talented player in the NFL. Peppers will play against his former team, the Panthers, on Sunday but he said it’s "just another game."