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Monday, December 31, 2012
NFC South afternoon update

By Pat Yasinskas

Let’s take a run through some odds and ends from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter isn’t the only Atlanta assistant getting attention as a possible head coach. Special teams coach Keith Armstrong reportedly is a candidate for the jobs in Chicago and Kansas City. Don’t sell Armstrong’s candidacy short just because he’s a special teams coach. He is highly regarded in league circles and could have a decent shot in Chicago, where he worked back in the 1990s.

Coach Mike Smith continues to sound optimistic that defensive end John Abraham (ankle) and cornerback Dunta Robinson (concussion) will be ready for the divisional round of the playoffs.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Coach Ron Rivera is waiting to meet with owner Jerry Richardson to find out if he’s going to be around for another season. The fact Rivera wasn’t fired Monday and the team didn’t make any effort to state that he will be sticking around makes you wonder if Richardson is in the process of hiring a general manager before making a decision on Rivera.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Interim head coach Joe Vitt said he’s been led to expect suspended head coach Sean Payton will return to the team immediately after the Super Bowl. Vitt said he expects Payton will start work at 12:01 a.m. that day and I expect that forecast is pretty accurate.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Coach Greg Schiano steered clear of a question about cornerback Eric Wright’s future with the team. That’s probably because Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik need time to evaluate the season. But I can pretty much tell you right now Wright either will be gone or playing at a much lower salary than the $7.75 million he currently is scheduled to make in 2013.

Defensive end Michael Bennett said he’d like to stay with the Bucs and I’m sure the team would like to keep him. But it probably is going to take some serious money to keep a guy who produced nine sacks. Bennett and defensive tackle Roy Miller probably are the top two names on the list of potential free agents that the Bucs would like to keep.