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Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Let’s take a look at the Tuesday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Just about everyone acknowledges this is a big year for quarterback Matt Ryan. Well, he’s off to a good start. In a joint workout with Tennessee on Monday, Ryan completed 16 of 17 passes.

Former Atlanta linebacker Keith Brooking has signed with Denver. Brooking had spent the last three seasons in Dallas, after playing high school and college football in Georgia and joined the Falcons in 1998. There had been some speculation Brooking could return to the Falcons after they lost Lofa Tatupu to injury, but I don’t think that ever was a consideration. The current regime didn’t feel Brooking fit the scheme before letting him leave for Dallas and there was no indication that thinking had changed.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Jeff Duncan writes that it would be best for all parties if New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma takes the reported settlement offer that may or may not have been put on the table by the NFL that would reduce his suspension from all season to eight games. Duncan might be right. This thing has gotten uglier and it sure looks like pride and ego have emerged on both sides. It might be time for a compromise that would settle this situation and allow the Saints and the NFL to move forward.

The Saints will have a padded joint practice with New England on Tuesday, before playing a preseason game with the Patriots. But that will come after New Orleans assistant head coach Joe Vitt and New England coach Bill Belichick reportedly will attend the funeral of Garrett Reid, son of Philadelphia coach Andy Reid.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Since coach Greg Schiano has been guarded with injury information, Stephen Holder’s list of the Bucs’ injuries is worth a look. Cornerback E.J. Biggers and receiver Arrelious Benn seem to be the two biggest concerns right now and it’s possible their absences could last into the regular season.

Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said the new coaching staff treats players like it’s their first time playing football. Okoye meant that as a compliment. His point is that there is a strong emphasis on fundamentals. That’s nothing but a positive because we haven’t seen that in Tampa Bay in several years.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

With Jeremy Shockey still a free agent and not expected back in Carolina, Greg Olsen said he’s looking forward to getting the bulk of the receiving targets at tight end for Carolina. All indications are the Panthers are counting on Olsen to take on a much bigger role than he played last season when he had 45 catches. Fantasy players might want to take note.

Defensive end Charles Johnson said he believes coach Ron Rivera is asking him for more consistency. That became pretty apparent when Rivera said Johnson needed to do more than what’s required of him. This is a classic nudge of a coach nudging a player that’s been good, but has a chance to be great.