- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's take a quick look at the early-Tuesday-morning headlines from around the NFC South. As you might expect, many of them include the New Orleans Saints and their various problems.
Free-agent defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who spent last season with New Orleans, visited the Falcons on Monday. I’d say this one is just due diligence and, if anything is going to happen, it will come after the draft. Atlanta needs some depth in the middle of the defensive line, but isn't desperate. The Falcons have Corey Peters, Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry. Peters has had a very nice first two seasons. Babineaux had a quiet 2011; Jerry has never come close to his potential since suffering a knee injury early in his rookie season. Franklin has some history with new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, so he could be an option if the Falcons aren’t satisfied with their situation at defensive tackle after the draft.
The Saints and general manager Mickey Loomis are denying a report that he had the ability to eavesdrop on opposing coaches from 2002 through 2004. But, John DeShazier writes, the news causes another distraction for a franchise that already has plenty of them as a result of what the NFL says was a three-year bounty program.
Here’s a statement from Loomis in which he emphatically denies the report.
Jim Haslett, who coached the Saints during the period in which Loomis allegedly had the ability to listen to opposing coaches, said he had no knowledge of Loomis actually doing so.
Mike Triplett writes that the news on Loomis probably won’t get the general manager fired. He might be right. Saints owner Tom Benson has stood by Loomis through the Vicodin scandal a couple years ago and through the bounty program that’s dominated the headlines for more than a month. There haven’t been any indications the latest allegations will change Benson’s mind.
Ron Green Jr. writes that Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly could make an instant impact if the Panthers take him at No. 9 in the NFL draft. No argument here. Kuechly had a highly productive college career and comes with very few questions. It’s rare that you can say that about a prospect near the end of the top 10. Plus, Carolina owner Jerry Richardson and general manager Marty Hurney really like guys that come with no obvious questions.
Tampa Bay’s coaching change affected more than the Bucs. It also affected the football team at Tampa’s Plant High School, which has been a state and national power in recent years. With former tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts joining the Colts, his son, Austin Roberts, a top college prospect at tight end, is leaving Plant’s program. But the Panthers are getting receiver/defensive back Tristan Cooper. His father, Ron Cooper, is the new defensive defensive backs coach for the Bucs.