NFC South: Turner Field

Around the NFC South

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
10:15
AM ET
Time for a trip through some NFC South headlines.

Martin Fennelly writes that signing Tiki Barber runs contrary to everything the Bucs are doing. He’s absolutely right. The Bucs are building with youth. But until the running back signs somewhere else or decides to stay retired, there will be speculation about the Bucs. With twin brother Ronde in Tampa Bay, this is a great storyline, even though it’s an extreme long shot.

Some residents in the neighborhood of Atlanta’s proposed open-air stadium worry that it could turn out to be like baseball’s Turner Field. That facility was supposed to spark all sorts of other development around it, but essentially remains on an island.

Although he doesn’t have a contract and appears headed for free agency, fullback Heath Evans said he’s confident he’ll re-sign with the Saints once the labor situation is resolved. This is one where there shouldn’t be any complications. Evans wants to play for the Saints and the team obviously likes him and wants him back.

While praising the upside of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who could be a candidate for the No. 1 overall draft pick with the Carolina Panthers, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper also addressed the downside. He did that in the harshest of ways, comparing Newton to Akili Smith. That may sound cold, but that gives an honest portrayal of how unsure many are about Newton. He’s drawn comparisons to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman and those are flattering. But the comparisons to Smith and JaMarcus Russell make you wonder if he’s worth the risk at No. 1.
Guess who’s going to be on the mound when the two NFC South cities with Major League Baseball teams get together next week?

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

That’s right. Ryan will throw out the ceremonial first pitch when the Braves host the Rays at Turner Field on June 16.

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