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Wednesday, November 23, 2011
NFC South evening update

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

I was a little tied up this afternoon, working on a Thanksgiving story on a former NFC South player that will appear Thursday morning. But there was a lot happening throughout the division Wednesday afternoon, so let’s hit the links to catch up.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith said he expects rookie receiver Julio Jones, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, to return to practice Thursday.

The Falcons might be catching a break Sunday. Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson is still wearing a boot and his high-ankle sprain may keep him from playing in the game with Atlanta.

Tampa Bay safety Tanard Jackson, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury, returned to practice Wednesday. Coach Raheem Morris sounded optimistic about Jackson’s chances of playing Sunday. Morris wasn’t as optimistic about defensive end Michael Bennett, who has a groin injury.

The Buccaneers, who have struggled to sell out home games in recent years, announced their pricing plan for 2012 season tickets. The team says the new plan will drop prices on 80 percent of the seats at Raymond James Stadium.

It looks like the Bucs will see Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback for the Titans on Sunday. Hasselbeck had to leave last Sunday's game with an elbow injury and the Titans had to turn to rookie Jake Locker. But Hasselbeck and coach Mike Munchak both said the injury should not be an issue.

Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton said he feels safer running than when he’s sitting back in the pocket. Makes plenty of sense. Newton is big and strong enough that the chances of him getting hurt while running aren’t that high. Newton’s most vulnerable when he’s stationary in the pocket and defenders can hit him from the blind side.

Bradley Handwerger writes about how successful the Saints have been coming off their bye week since coach Sean Payton changed his approach about time off in 2009.