<
>

Around the NFC South

Let's take a morning run through the headlines from around the NFC South:

ATLANTA FALCONS

A Georgia watchdog group has filed a petition in an attempt to force a referendum in which voters can decide whether or not public money should be used to build a new stadium for the Falcons.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Wide receiver Steve Smith, who is headed into his 13th season, told the Associated Press he wants to play 15 or 16 seasons. That’s a lot for a receiver. But I wouldn’t bet against Smith, who hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Smith’s always taken very good care of himself and he’s such a competitor that I easily could see him going several more years.

Quarterback Cam Newton said he would like to be a team captain at some point. It might take some time because Smith and left tackle Jordan Gross are basically grandfathered in as captains. But Newton can work to eventually fulfill his goal by continuing to earn the respect of his teammates.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Outside linebacker Victor Butler said he’s looking forward to getting out of the shadow of DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer in Dallas. He’ll get that chance with the Saints. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was with Butler in Dallas and I doubt the Saints would have signed the linebacker if Ryan didn’t think highly of him.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Cornerback Eric Wright, who was thought to be on his way out of Tampa Bay, said there’s no place else he’d rather be. Wright must be serious about that because he took a significant cut in pay to stay with the Bucs after serving a four-game suspension last season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.