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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Time to take a look at the Tuesday morning headlines around the NFC South.

— Here’s a mock draft that has the Carolina Panthers taking cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round. Seems to be a popular pick and would appear to be a possibility. But the stock of players can rise and fall between now and the draft. Plus, we won’t know until a late-February coin flip if the Panthers will be picking No. 8 or No. 9.

— Jim Henderson, who is retiring as sports director at WWL-TV, reflects on some of the figures he has covered in the New Orleans sports scene, including some Saints’ players and coaches. Henderson will remain as the Saints’ radio play-by-play man.

— Former Fresno State coach Pat Hill said he had an opportunity to go into broadcasting. Instead, he chose to become the offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons. Hill said coaching offensive lines is his area of expertise and he was very impressed with Atlanta coach Mike Smith.

— Carolina quarterback Cam Newton will be featured on NFL Face to Face with Hannah Storm on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

— Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said the Bucs will be involved in free agency. For that portion of Tampa Bay fans that tends to take everything literally and overreact, let me translate for you. This does not mean the Bucs suddenly are going to overhaul their team when free agency starts in March. They still believe in building through the draft and they have parts of a young core already in place. They will use free agency to supplement that core. They’ll be more active than last year when punter Michael Koenen was the only free agent they brought in. But there’s not going to be some major shopping spree.