NFC South: Rodney Harrison

Around the NFC South

December, 11, 2012
12/11/12
9:38
AM ET
Let's take a run through the top headlines from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

The Falcons lost on Sunday, so it’s time for another round of “Bash The Falcons." A lot of people have said the Falcons aren’t as good as their record indicates. The latest is NBC analyst Rodney Harrison, who said no one is afraid of the Falcons. For the moment, he’s right. The only way this kind of talk is going to stop is if the Falcons go out and win a playoff game, or at least have a convincing victory against the New York Giants on Sunday.

Punter Matt Bosher has been named the Falcons’ Man of the Year for his off-field activities. This makes him one of 32 candidates for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Rod Maaddi writes that Ron Rivera could save his job by winning the remaining three games. I’m not sure Rivera needs to win all three. Sunday’s victory against Atlanta and maybe one or two more wins could be enough to keep Rivera employed. I think owner Jerry Richardson just wants to see some positive signs out of this team the rest of the way.

Rivera yanked rookie cornerback Josh Norman from the starting lineup, saying he wanted to see what some other players could do. I think the Panthers made a mistake by making Norman a starter long before he was ready. A little time as a backup might get him on the right path.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is expected to announce his ruling on the appeals of the suspensions in the bounty saga on Tuesday. As soon as an announcement is made, I’ll bring you analysis of what it means.

Interim coach Joe Vitt said the Saints are in territory they haven’t been in since the arrival of much of the coaching staff and quarterback Drew Brees in 2006. Even in 2007 and ’08, the Saints were at least in playoff contention in the final weeks. I wouldn’t count on wholesale lineup changes, but you probably will see some younger guys getting increase playing time.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Right tackle Demar Dotson said he has to clean up his technique after being called for holding twice on Sunday. He’s not the only one. The Bucs were called for 11 penalties. That’s way too many for a team that prides itself on being disciplined.

Around the NFC South

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
9:35
AM ET
Time for a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.

Although rookie Mark Ingram had 17 carries Sunday and Pierre Thomas had just six, coach Sean Payton said there’s no set formula for dividing the carries between the running backs. Payton said the way the game unfolds determines that. Against Jacksonville, the Saints faced a lot of short-yardage situations and the Saints use Ingram more in the short-yardage game.

Carolina receiver Steve Smith appears happier than he has seemed in recent years, according to Jordan Gross, who has played with Smith in college and with the Panthers. Smith has reason to be happy. With Cam Newton, he has a quarterback who can get him the ball and Smith is putting up the kind of numbers he did earlier in his career.

Broadcaster Rodney Harrison, a former player, picks the Packers to beat the Falcons on Sunday night. Can’t really argue with his logic based on last season’s playoff game and the way the Falcons have started this season. But I’ve got a hunch we might see Atlanta start to put things together this week.

Before the playoff loss to the Packers, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan won his two head-to-head meetings with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Ryan said he used the playoff loss as motivation throughout the offseason.

The Panthers continue to tweak their roster. They signed defensive end Antwan Applewhite and claimed safety Jermale Hines off waivers from the Colts. Applewhite played for San Diego when Carolina coach Ron Rivera was with the Chargers.

Tampa Bay’s coaching staff was happy with the play of Corey Lynch and Larry Asante, who shared playing time at safety after the Bucs lost Cody Grimm to injury for the rest of the season.

Tampa Bay’s investments in the front four during the last two drafts seem to be paying off. The Bucs have allowed only 92 rushing yards in the last two games. The Bucs already have 10 sacks after recording 10 all of last season.

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