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Monday, May 3, 2010
NFC South mailbag

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

FalcFanatic in Atlanta writes: What's up with this Carolina Panthers lovefest? Are there any other teams left in the NFCS?!

Pat Yasinskas: Popular question early into my plunge into the mailbag and thank you for being more diplomatic than most. In return, I’ll try to be diplomatic. But, let’s think about it a bit and let me just ask you to use logistics and common sense when asking questions like that. The Panthers had a minicamp this past weekend. The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints have their minicamps scheduled for other times. There was nothing going on with the Falcons or Saints this past weekend – except for the lawsuit filed against the Saints by their former security director and we touched on that and let our news side handle it. My assignment was to go to Carolina and cover the minicamp and that’s what I did. Yes, Tampa Bay had a minicamp, too, but it was only a rookie minicamp. Carolina’s was a full minicamp with just about everyone there. I spent the draft with the Bucs and wrote a ton about them. My bosses felt it would be redundant for me to spend the weekend writing the same stories about the same Tampa Bay rookies we just wrote about. We’ll get to the Falcons and Saints when they’ve got something going on. And I’ll get back out to One Buc Place for some of the June workouts.


JP in Inverness, Fla., writes: Since the Bucs have gone from zero to hero at DT and certainly improved the receiving corps I have been wondering, I know conventional wisdom would be to at least have the WRs sit for a while, but with the Bucs schedule being so weak at the beginning of the year, I think sitting them until the second half might actually hurt them. Do you think we will see four rookie starters day one?

Pat Yasinskas: Very real possibility. I think defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price are instant starters. Same for receiver Arrelious Benn. Receiver Mike Williams also has a chance to start if he has a good preseason. My guess is both receivers start. It’s not like the Bucs have a lot of other attractive options.


Raymond in Brandon, Fla., writes: I enjoyed your coverage up to now but your latest article about the Mock Draft. I will never pay to be an insider and look at McShay's or Kiper's content -- ever. It's ridiculous. You tell it like it is and I am all for that with good intel. I'm glad you have the NFC south beat.

Pat Yasinskas: I appreciate that. But we’ve got a big team here at ESPN.com and it’s my job to sometimes point out some of our other fine content because I can't get to everything.


Greg in Tampa writes: Now that Arron Sears has been released, can you comment on what his "condition" was that caused him to miss 2009?

Pat Yasinskas: Journalistically, legally and ethically, all I can say is what the Bucs have said for a long time. Sears had a “personal issue.’’ Now, you can read between the lines and read some of the speculation that’s been out there and figure this out. It’s nothing sinister. The guy had a personal issue and he was trying to take care of it. He was coming along and he had a setback that prompted the Bucs to release him. He again is trying to get that issue under control. Sears is a talented football player and other teams are monitoring his progress. But he’s got to take care of things before he plays football again and that’s likely to be a long process.


Patterson in Atlanta writes: Do you think the Falcons draft class is enough to win the NFC South, if so what are the chances?

Pat Yasinskas: I thought Atlanta had a very solid draft. Wasn’t spectacular, but the Falcons didn’t need to do anything dramatic. Throw in the fact that last year’s top two picks will be coming back from injuries that kept them out for almost all of their rookie seasons and the Falcons are sitting nicely. They were 9-7 a year ago and that was with a bunch of injuries. With everybody healthy and a good core in place, I see them as the most logical challenger to the Saints in the NFC South.