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Saturday, January 7, 2012
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Time to take a look at the top Saturday morning headlines from around the NFC South. Obviously, this will be heavy on the Saints and Falcons because they have playoff games this weekend.

Bob Marshall has a column about how Detroit fans are like New Orleans fans a few years back. New Orleans went through Hurricane Katrina and the Saints helped pull the city back together. Detroit has been through some difficult economic times but the Lions have given people something to rally around.

Jeff Duncan writes that the Saints can set themselves apart if the defense steps up in the postseason. No doubt, the New Orleans offense always will put points on the board. But the defense is going to have to make some plays along the way if the Saints are going to get to the Super Bowl.

The Saints said they’re prepared for Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. He didn’t play against them in the regular season because he was serving a suspension.

Largely due to the position he plays, Atlanta center Todd McClure doesn’t get a lot of attention. But that sometimes changes in the postseason. Here’s a very nice feature on McClure in The Wall Street Journal. I’m guessing the Giants’ defensive line doesn’t think the Atlanta offensive linemen read The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s a bit of good news for Atlanta fans. You don’t hear a lot about kicker Matt Bryant. But I can tell you he’s a very competitive guy who is motivated by perceived slights. Bryant started his career with the Giants, but was cut soon after the arrival of coach Tom Coughlin. Keep that in mind if Sunday’s game comes down to a Bryant kick because I can assure you that will be on Bryant’s mind.

Atlanta wide receiver Harry Douglas has a brother, Toney, who plays for the New York Knicks. Toney Douglas will be at MetLife Stadium on Sunday to watch is brother.

The Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly interviewed Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski for their job as head coach. Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey also has been given permission to talk to the Jaguars. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempt to interview one or both of these coordinators soon.

Tampa Bay veteran cornerback Ronde Barber will have surgery on his fractured right arm, according to his brother, Tiki. After the surgery, Barber also will decide if he wants to retire or continue playing. Barber previously suggested he might retire if the Bucs fired coach Raheem Morris and they did. There’s no big rush here. Barber can wait to see who is hired as the new coach and decide if he wants to continue playing and if he fits into the plans of the new coach.