Let's take a quick trip through some NFC South headlines.
D. Orlando Ledbetter reports the agents for veteran receiver Brian Finneran and cornerback Brian Williams have been told their clients won’t receive contract offers to stay with the Falcons before the expected labor lockout. That’s probably the exact same route the Falcons would take with those two at this point even if there was a labor agreement. Finneran’s clearly nearing the end of his career, and the Falcons have some young receivers they want to get more playing time. They could also address the position in the draft. Williams has been a valuable contributor as the nickel back, but has had problems staying healthy. They’re the kind of players who wouldn’t get grabbed up quickly in a normal year for free agency. The Falcons aren’t closing the door on re-signing Finneran and Williams at a later date, and that makes sense, because Atlanta only will consider bringing the veterans back if the team isn’t happy with what it gets at their positions in the draft.
George Whitfield, Jr., the quarterback coach who prepared Cam Newton for the scouting combine, said the former Auburn quarterback is “beyond coachable.’’ Anybody else think the Panthers, who are talking to anyone and everyone who ever has crossed paths with Newton, might have heard the same thing from Whitfield?
Steve Reed has an overview of how the lockout will impact the Panthers, and he includes a good point that teams will not be allowed to send e-mails, letters or packages to their players if a lockout takes place. A lot of people seem to think there will be some wink-and-nod deals where teams and coaches will stay in contact with players to make sure they’re preparing for the season. But the league and owners are very serious that, if there is indeed a lockout, it will mean players will be totally isolated from their teams.
Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium ranked No. 9 in the league in this list of best places to watch a game. Maybe I’m a little partial because I live in Tampa, but I’d rank the facility in the top five. But, then again, I don’t get the full fan experience, because I’m sitting in the press box. Just for fun, if somebody asked me to rank the four NFC South stadiums, I’d go with Raymond James Stadium, Bank of America Stadium, the Georgia Dome and the Superdome in that order. Yeah, I prefer the great outdoors. Superdome is a wonderful venue in a lot of ways, and the crowds are tremendous (best in the NFC South), but it’s also a bit of a logistical challenge -- at least from my perspective.