NFC South: Al Toon

Around the NFC South

June, 12, 2012
Let’s take a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.
  • Defensive tackle Brian Price reportedly will miss the team’s minicamp that starts Tuesday. Price reportedly is working out with a personal trainer in California and has the team’s blessing. Coach Greg Schiano quickly has developed a reputation for not cutting any slack to his players, but he’s making an exception in Price’s case. I think that’s the right call because this is a unique situation. Price recently lost his sister in a car accident. He needs time to heal and it’s not imperative for him to be in Tampa right now. If he’s ready for training camp, I think that’s a reasonable expectation for all the parties involved.
  • Veteran receiver Chad Ochocinco says he has signed with the Miami Dolphins. So it looks like we can put an end to the questions about him landing in the NFC South, which I don’t think was ever a remote possibility.
  • Joseph Person has a five-point checklist on the Panthers as they start minicamp Tuesday. The most intriguing item to me is right tackle, where Jeff Otah had a knee injury last week. The Panthers say tests showed no further damage to a knee that’s been banged up the past couple of years. I’m thinking that unless Otah really shows conclusive evidence from now through the preseason that his knee is completely healthy, his time in Carolina could be over and Byron Bell will be the starter. It’s a shame because Otah had enormous talent as a run-blocker. But, if the Panthers can’t count on his knee to hold up, they have to move on.
  • Although an arbitrator ruled last week that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had the right to suspend New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith and former New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita, he initially reserved a final ruling on former New Orleans defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. But the arbitrator rule Monday that Goodell had the authority to suspend Hargrove. All four players also have appealed their suspensions to Goodell, who is scheduled to hear the appeals next week.
  • New Orleans rookie Nick Toon has drawn comparisons to his father, former NFL receiver Al Toon, and to current New Orleans No. 1 receiver Marques Colston. If Toon can be just a little like those two, he’s got a chance to emerge as the Saints’ No. 4 receiver this year.

Around the NFC South

May, 1, 2012
Let’s take a run through the afternoon headlines from around the NFC South.

Here’s an off-beat story. Before the Louisiana House passed a law to continue a tax break for the New Orleans Hornets, one lawmaker proposed an amendment that would have required the Saints to agree to a five-year contract with quarterback Drew Brees. Tom Benson owns both the Saints and the Hornets. The amendment didn’t pass, but I like the lawmaker’s creativity.

New Orleans rookie receiver Nick Toon will wear the same jersey number his father wore in the NFL. The younger Toon wore No. 87 at Wisconsin. But he’s switching to the No. 88 that Al Toon wore while playing for the New York Jets.

Undrafted wide receiver Rico Wallace grew up as a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He could have a chance to face them twice a year if he can make the roster after signing with the Carolina Panthers.

The Falcons have added another name to their list of undrafted rookies. They added California receiver Michael Calvin, who has great speed, but started only 10 college games and had only one career catch for a touchdown.

While pointing out that it’s too early to declare him the next Darren Sproles or Warrick Dunn, Mark Cook writes that Tampa Bay rookie running back Michael Smith has some similarities to those two. He’s small, but he’s got great quickness. If Smith is even a little like Sproles or Dunn, he’ll have a chance to make an impact with the Bucs.
New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael isn’t known for being a great quote. He comes across as shy and quiet in interviews.

But Carmichael is one of those guys you need to listen to when he does have something to say because his thoughts usually carry some weight.

Carmichael and assistant head coach Joe Vitt met with the New Orleans media to discuss Wisconsin wide receiver Nick Toon, who the Saints drafted in the fourth round. Carmichael was asked if Toon compares to any other receiver he’s ever worked with.

“His range and his hands remind me more of [Marques] Colston,’’ Carmichael said. “He runs better than I think people give him credit for. He was timed real well at the combine. I think that speed shows up on film.”

Any comparison to Colston is pretty high praise for a receiver coming into New Orleans’ offense. Since arriving in New Orleans as a seventh-round pick in 2006, Colston has been Drew Brees’ favorite and most-productive target.

Toon had some medical issues in his college career, but Vitt said that’s not a concern.

“Our doctors passed him on his physical,’’ Vitt said. “I believe he missed only one game his senior year, the Indiana game, where he probably could have played in the game. I think he’s going to have to work through some issues in the National Football League, but they all do. Robert Meachem missed his whole first year. We have good medical grades on him. We like his production with over 60 catches.’’

If Toon turns out to be anything close to what Colston has been, the Saints just helped themselves.