Sunday, July 22, 2012
Around the NFC South
By Pat Yasinskas
As we begin the week in which all four NFC South teams start training camp, let's take a look at the top Sunday headlines from around the division.
- New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees filed an affidavit in support of linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s effort to have his one-year suspension revoked. I’m not sure how much weight such affidavits carry, but Brees’ strong praise of Vilma can’t hurt the cause.
- Although the Carolina Panthers don’t report to training camp in Spartanburg, S.C. until Friday, rookies and selected veterans will get a jump on the rest with a three-day camp at the team’s Charlotte facility, starting on Monday. Quarterback Cam Newton is one of those veterans expected to participate.
- Speaking of Spartanburg, Tom Sorensen has a column previewing camp. One of the items he touches on is how the Panthers continue to go away for camp. The other three NFC South teams train at their regular-season facilities, but the Panthers still go to Wofford College. In most cases, I think it makes sense to stay home. But I think the Carolina situation is an exception. Wofford has ideal facilities and there are virtually no distractions for the players in Spartanburg. The location is only a quick ride from Charlotte and the overall camp experience for fans in Spartanburg is one of the better ones I’ve seen.
- The Times-Picayune has a list of the top 25 sports power players in New Orleans and Saints owner Tom Benson is No. 1 on the list. It’s the fourth consecutive year that Benson has topped the list. But I think it’s fair to say Benson’s grip on the top spot is even stronger with his purchase of the NBA’s Hornets.
- Speaking of top-25 lists, the Times-Picayune continues its rankings of the top Saints’ players with Darren Sproles at No. 4. This is a pretty good indication of how much offensive talent the Saints have. On a lot of teams, a guy coming off a season in which he set an NFL record for all-purpose yards would be ranked No. 1.
- This column by Jeff Schultz sums up the state of the Falcons as they enter training camp. Despite four straight winning seasons, they’re not going to be judged a true success until they start winning some games in the postseason.
- Rick Stroud has a list of five Buccaneers that need to turn things around in 2012. He tops the list with running back LeGarrette Blount, whose attention to detail was a sore spot with the former staff. If Blount couldn’t meet Raheem Morris’ expectations, he really is going to have to change to impress new coach Greg Schiano to have any chance to hold off rookie Doug Martin and keep his starting job.
- Roy Cummings has a list of five key Tampa Bay players and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of them. Again, no argument. McCoy has gotten hurt in each of his first two seasons. McCoy has some obvious talent, but needs to stay healthy to truly have an impact.