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Thursday, July 11, 2013
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas

Time for a look at some odds and ends from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

D. Orlando Ledbetter has middle linebacker Akeem Dent at No. 15 on his list of the top 25 Falcons. He played primarily on running downs last year, but may get a chance to become a three-down player this year. If Dent shows he can cover tight ends, he could make outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas into a two-down player.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Max Henson has an overview of the offensive line. The guy I’m keeping an eye on is rookie guard Edmund Kugbila. I think the fourth-round pick could have a shot at a starting job.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Speaking of the Falcons and every-down linebackers, they let middle linebacker Curtis Lofton leave as a free agent last year because they didn’t think he’d be a three-down player in coordinator Mike Nolan’s system. Lofton landed in New Orleans, where the Saints kept him on the field almost all the time and he quickly became a leader of the defense. That’s why he’s ranked No. 7 in the Times-Picayune’s list of the top 25 Saints.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Stephen Holder writes that the recent contract extension for Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford could be used as a guideline if the Bucs eventually decide to give Josh Freeman a long-term deal. Although he clearly needs to improve his consistency, Freeman has a better winning percentage as a starter than Stafford.