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Saturday, October 1, 2011
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Let's take a look at the Saturday headlines from around the NFC South.

Interesting story on the relationship between Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers and Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson. They used to be teammates and there’s lots of irony in the quotes. Peppers says Johnson wasn’t very mature when he came into the league and he tried to show the young player the way. Johnson backs that up, calls Peppers a leader and says he strives to be as consistent as Peppers. Funny, but, prior to this, nobody ever accused Peppers of being mature, a leader or consistent in his Carolina days. But, if Peppers did have something to do with Johnson’s development, then he did leave a bit of a positive legacy in Carolina.

Speaking of former Panthers now with the Bears, safety Chris Harris didn’t sound optimistic about his chances of playing Sunday due to a hamstring injury.

The Saints are saying they won’t approach Sunday’s game against Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert any differently than any other opponent. They even praise Gabbert and say they think he’s well prepared for the challenge. I think the Saints are just being nice. On Sunday, I expect defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to send every pass-rusher he’s got after Gabbert. Besides, even if Gabbert plays better than he did in the rain at Carolina last week, he’s not going to win a shootout with Drew Brees.

Despite starting slowly on offense in all three games this season, the Falcons aren’t going to abandon their practice of scripting the first 15 plays. But it might be wise if coordinator Mike Mularkey inserts some plays that haven’t been in the script this season. It also might be wise if he places a tight end next to left tackle Sam Baker in an effort to help keep quarterback Matt Ryan on his feet.

There already had been reports that Atlanta safety William Moore was fined for a hit on Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman last week. But Roy Cummings reports Moore’s $7,500 tab actually was for a hit on running back Earnest Graham. Cummings also reports that Tampa Bay defensive tackle Brian Price was fined $7,500 for slapping an Atlanta player in the head.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank reportedly sold his Buckhead mansion for $3.9 million.

The Bucs held a Friday night practice to prepare for their Monday night game. Linebacker Quincy Black (ankle) and tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) were among those who sat out. Winslow generally sits out one practice a week and he already had missed Thursday’s practice, so this is one to keep an eye on. The Bucs don’t have to issue their final injury report until later Saturday. We’ll let you know Winslow’s status as soon as we get it.