NFC South: Twitter

NFC South afternoon update

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
4:35
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I just arrived back at NFC South blog headquarters, so let’s take a quick run through some headlines from around the division:


ATLANTA FALCONS



Coach Mike Smith needs to shut down Roddy White’s Twitter account. White, who has a history of offending people on Twitter, criticized Jeff Green of the Boston Celtics. I stopped following the NBA after Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale left the Celtics and find the NBA quite boring these days. But the last thing I want to hear is White’s opinion on anything outside of football. And I'm not even sure that letting White share his opinions on football is a very good idea.

Center/guard Joe Hawley will return to the team Tuesday after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. I wouldn’t count on Hawley’s return making much difference. Hawley is a guy the Falcons once hoped would be the eventual replacement for veteran center Todd McClure. But I don’t think the team’s hopes for Hawley are too high these days.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Tom Sorensen writes that a lot of people within the Panthers’ organization believe that the season could have gone in a totally different direction if the Panthers had held on in and won against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome in a game in late September. The fact is the Panthers didn’t win that game and it put their season into a downward spiral. They won the rematch with Atlanta, they won on Sunday at San Diego and, if they finish their season with strong performances in the final two games, coach Ron Rivera stands a good chance of keeping his job.

A group of Panthers’ fans took out a full-page ad (there's no indication center Ryan Kalil was involved in this one) in The Charlotte Observer on Monday, imploring owner Jerry Richardson to get rid of Rivera. I’m happy to see advertising money flowing to any newspaper at a time when the industry is struggling. But I’m not so sure the plea carries much weight. Like I said above, I think there’s a decent chance Rivera keeps his job. I also think there’s a growing chance interim general manager Brandon Beane moves into that role on a permanent basis.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Jeff Duncan writes that there still is a very remote chance the Saints could make the playoffs. It would take something close to a miracle. But, hey, if it doesn’t happen, maybe the Saints can file another appeal.

Nakia Hogan writes that Sunday marked the first time a defense coached by Steve Spagnuolo ever shut out an opponent. That’s great. But don’t get too excited. Tampa Bay was dismal on offense and that might have had as much to do with the shutout as anything the Saints did.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Quarterback Josh Freeman said that a team that got shut out by the NFL’s worst defense still is “unified.’’ I don’t think the Bucs are in complete disarray like they were under former coach Raheem Morris at the end of last season. But I think new coach Greg Schiano needs to get better results out of his team in the final two games or else the Bucs will face a very long offseason. Schiano’s hard-line approach seemed to work nicely early in the season, but what’s happened recently makes you wonder if his methods are wearing thin on his players.

Jeremy Shockey hasn’t signed anywhere, but he’s making news.

The tight end that played in Carolina last season, and New Orleans the three seasons before that, got into a Twitter war with former New York Giants teammate Armani Toomer on Thursday. It started after reports in the New York media that Shockey had let the Giants know he wanted to return to them after forcing them to trade him in 2008. That prompted an unfriendly tweet from Toomer.

“No!! Shockey,” Toomer wrote on his Twitter account. “ ‘I will never play4 you again!’ he yelled at (general manager Jerry) Reese in 08. Let him keep his word. Bad teammate, worse person.”

That brought a volley back from Shockey. He tweeted that he hasn’t talked with the receiver since “he loafed on a play and got man handled in my leg that caused it to break.”

I had heard all the stories about Shockey being a problem child in his New York days. But I’ve got to be honest and say I never saw him cause any major issues while he was with the Saints and Panthers. He could be surprisingly good with the media at times, and very moody at others.

He was a role player with the Saints and Panthers, and seemed to accept that role. I think there still is a chance he could re-sign with the Panthers, if he wants, because I don’t think he burned that bridge.

But I think his bridge to New York might have been torched back in 2008. The Giants already have brought in free-agent tight end Martellus Bennett.

Roddy White has gone silent

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
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We have officially entered what might be the quietest time of the NFL year.

The best way to gauge that is by looking at Roddy White’s verified Twitter account. The Atlanta wide receiver has been silent for a full week. That doesn’t happen often.

Whether on Twitter or in interviews, White is one of the most quotable players in the NFC South. He can be entertaining and playful. He also can offend people because he’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind.

The most recent example of that came a week ago when White tweeted that Roger Goodell is paid too much and pointed out that the NFL commissioner doesn’t block, tackle or catch passes.

That set off a bit of a firestorm among media and fans, and White stood by his statements on his Twitter account. But White has gone silent since then.

Maybe White is just taking a vacation. Or maybe Atlanta coach Mike Smith finally got his wish and White is staying away from Twitter.

Stay tuned on this one.

Around the NFC South

January, 29, 2012
1/29/12
11:42
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Time for a Sunday look at the headlines from around the NFC South.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting some of the same treatment they used to give others when Bruce Allen was their general manager. The Arizona Cardinals refused to give the Bucs permission to talk to wide receivers coach John McNulty, who remains under contract. Presumably, the Bucs were interested in McNulty as the offensive coordinator for new coach Greg Schiano. The two worked together at Rutgers.

D. Orlando Ledbetter reports Miami assistant Joe Danna is the leading candidate to become Atlanta’s defensive backs coach. Alvin Reynolds was fired from that spot last week.

Although he’s having fun in Hawaii, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said he doesn’t want to be at the Pro Bowl every year. He wants to be playing in Super Bowls.

Speaking of the Pro Bowl, it will air at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. In addition to Newton, the other NFC South representatives are all offensive players -- New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Carl Nicks, Jahri Evans and Jermon Bushrod, Carolina’s Steve Smith and Ryan Kalil, Atlanta’s Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez and Tampa Bay’s Davin Joseph. By the way, you might want to keep an eye on White’s verified Twitter account during the game. For the first time ever, the NFL will allow players to tweet during a game. If you’ve followed White on Twitter, you know he’s more than a Pro Bowler in that area. He’s a first-team All-Pro.

Keep an eye on our main NFL page for Pro Bowl coverage. If an NFC South player does anything out of the ordinary or there are injuries, I’ll weigh in on the blog.

The NFC South's best rivalry

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
1:00
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Roddy White, Jabari GreerChuck Cook/US PresswireAfter saying plenty about the Saints last season, Roddy White's twitter account has been quiet.

Perhaps the best indicator of how big Sunday’s game is between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons is Roddy White’s verified Twitter account.

For nearly a week now, it’s gone almost silent. White, who never has been one to hold back what’s on his mind, has weighed in a few times on the Joe Paterno controversy, but he hasn’t written a word about the Saints.

That says a lot about what this NFC South rivalry has become. If White’s staying quiet and the Saints aren’t getting their cameras ready for postgame pictures, you know players from both teams are taking this game very seriously. There also is a very good chance they’re following orders from New Orleans coach Sean Payton and Atlanta coach Mike Smith, who realize you don’t need to throw gas on a fire that’s been burning for about four years, and still may not have reached its peak.

It might not have the historic significance of, let’s say, Green Bay-Chicago or Washington-Dallas, but it’s hard to find a rivalry that’s been more heated the past few years.

"This is one of the most overlooked rivalries in football right now,’’ Atlanta running back Michael Turner said. “We've been playing some great games. We know we don't like each other. We've been fighting each other since 2008 for this division. It's a rivalry game."

The part about not liking each other is about as close as any Saint or Falcon has come to fanning the flames. But that part is pretty well known if you’ve spent any time around either team. It extends even to the fans.

"If you're just kind of walking around town, fans say, 'If you do one thing this year, just beat Atlanta,' " New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said. "I think that's probably the sentiment of fans that have been longtime Saints fans, I'm sure. Maybe longtime Falcons fans say the same thing to them about beating the Saints, I don't know.’’

It’s pretty safe to say that Atlanta fans -- longtime or not -- do feel the same way about the Saints.

Two incidents from last season demonstrate just how strong this rivalry has become.

[+] EnlargeNew Orleans' Drew Brees
Chuck Cook/US PRESSWIRE"If you're just kind of walking around town, fans say, 'If you do one thing this year, just beat Atlanta,' " Drew Brees said.
One came long before White turned to more tame tweets -- or Smith ordered him to. Before a game with New Orleans last season, White tweeted that the “grace of God’’ was the reason the Saints won their Super Bowl so the "city wouldn’t fall apart."

That caused outrage by New Orleans fans and probably didn’t score much goodwill with the Saints. But this rivalry flows both ways. After New Orleans defeated Atlanta in the Georgia Dome last season, some of the Saints were seen dancing and having their pictures taken on the Falcons’ logo. Former New Orleans defensive tackle Remi Ayodele made a comment that indicated the Saints were intentionally showing the ultimate disrespect to the Falcons.

That caused a stir, but the Saints insisted they had the utmost respect for the Falcons and the pictures were taken to commemorate an important victory.

As word of that scene spread through the Atlanta locker room, defensive end John Abraham, generally one of the more subdued Falcons, grew visibly angry.

“We can never let that happen again,’’ Abraham said.

The Saints and the Falcons weren’t biting this week when the media asked them about that incident. Not even White.

"They came down here and got a W,’’ White said. “They can kind of do whatever they want to do. That's kind of what happens. When we won down there, we kind of went on the field. It happens. We kind of did our thing when we went down there and won the game. They won, so congratulations to them.’’

But don’t let the diplomacy fool you.

"I'm not too familiar with that. I heard about it,’’ said Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who tried to be coy when first asked about the incident.

That didn’t last.

“But at the same time, I don't forget a lot of stuff,’’ Weatherspoon said. “Sometimes you have to have the memory of an elephant."

Although the Saints and Falcons are the oldest of the four NFC South franchises and played together in the NFC West before realignment in 2002, the rivalry hasn’t been this volatile for long. Both teams struggled through much of their early existence. When one team was good, the other wasn’t.

When Carolina entered the league in 1995, the NFL tried to make the Falcons and Panthers a natural rivalry because the cities are less than a four-hour drive apart. But that never really took off because the Panthers and Falcons were seldom good at the same time.

Without any encouragement by the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers became the NFC South’s only real rivalry, soon after the division came into existence. In those days, Carolina’s Brentson Buckner and Kris Jenkins and Tampa Bay’s Warren Sapp and Kenyatta Walker, lobbed verbal shots back and forth. Even Carolina punter Todd Sauerbrun and Tampa Bay kicker Martin Gramatica got into the rift and the teams played a series of brutally physical games through the middle of the past decade.

That rivalry has faded. But it’s been replaced by the Falcons and the Saints.

"If you look at the past four years, ever since Mike Smith has been there and Sean has been here, both teams have been up there as far as first or second in the division quite a few times,’’ Brees said. “So I'd say that's part of the reason why it's even more competitive now than maybe it ever has been."

There’s no doubt. When two good teams are going at each other, it makes things more interesting. The Saints are 6-3 and the Falcons are 5-3 and they’ll be playing for first place when they meet Sunday in the Georgia Dome.

Things tend to get heated between the Falcons and Saints these days. But that’s a good thing. It’s the sign of a healthy rivalry. The best rivalry the NFC South has ever had.
Atlanta’s Roddy White and New Orleans’ Reggie Bush made some headlines with their work on Twitter earlier this offseason.

But they’ve kind of gone quiet as of late. AFC South colleague Paul Kuharsky has a new feature he’s calling the “Twindex," which is short for Twitter Index and Paul’s monitoring the Twitter accounts of several hundred NFL players. His top-10 list is going to appear periodically through the rest of the offseason and weekly when the season arrives.

It’s a subjective list, based not so much on how often a guy tweets, but more on the quality (or interest value) of his recent tweets.

Take a look at Paul’s debut list. It has one NFC South representative. That’s New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter talking about people wondering if he’ll give up his jersey number (22) to rookie running back Mark Ingram. New Orleans fullback Heath Evans got an honorable mention.
In this radio interview in which he spent a lot of time talking about Twitter and repeating his desire to remain with the New Orleans Saints, running back Reggie Bush actually revealed something that’s sort of new.

Bush, who is scheduled to make $11.8 million in base salary and carry a $16 million cap figure this season, was asked if he’d be willing to take a cut in pay.

“Yeah, I mean, obviously I know there’s going to have to be some type of renegotiation,’’ Bush said. “So that’s where me, my agent and the New Orleans Saints are going to have to come to a happy medium.”

It’s very rare for a player to take a true pay cut. Lots of times, a player who is at the end of a big contract will be signed to an extension that will spread money around for salary-cap purposes. In some instances, teams have cut high-priced players and later re-signed them to much smaller contracts.

I think Bush’s situation falls somewhere between those two scenarios. He’s never lived up to the incredible hype that came with being the No. 2 overall selection in the 2006 draft. But, when healthy, he’s been a big contributor to the offense and as a return man. It might be tough for the Saints to figure out a way to spread out $11.8 million because that’s simply a lot of money to pay a guy who is not a true superstar.

But Bush says he wants to stay with the team and this interview showed he’s willing to work with the Saints. As long as he doesn’t carry out the negotiations via Twitter, I think he and the Saints can find that “happy medium’’ he mentioned.

Around the NFC South

May, 10, 2011
5/10/11
10:40
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Time for a quick run through the NFC South headlines.

This article asks if the Carolina Panthers should bring in veteran Kerry Collins as a mentor for rookie quarterback Cam Newton. It almost makes some sense. Collins has faced the pitfalls that come with being a young franchise quarterback in Charlotte. He’s changed his life and mended fences with most of the people within the organization. But the Panthers don’t need reminders of the past. Besides, they’ve got a coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, and quarterbacks coach, Mike Shula, to serve as mentors.

The Falcons will follow the lead of the Saints last week and conduct a players’-only minicamp starting today. Matt Ryan and most of the big names are scheduled to attend. The Bucs and Panthers also have done some smaller-scale workouts.

If the Panthers trade receiver Steve Smith, Pat Kirwan suggests the likely compensation would be a fourth-round draft pick, with the possibility of a third-round pick. Sounds about right. Smith’s age and recent injury history will hold back his value.

Once again, Reggie Bush’s verified Twitter account is stirring things up. He might want to consult with Atlanta receiver Roddy White for advice on how to master Twitter.

In his new book, Jets coach Rex Ryan said that New York’s choice on a quarterback in 2009 came down to Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. Ryan said interviews with both players went very well, but the deciding factor might have been pro day workouts. At USC, Ryan said 24 receivers showed up to catch Sanchez’s passes. At Kansas State, only two receivers showed up. Ryan said that convinced the Jets that teammates had respect for Sanchez. That all may be true, but it’s a little easier to get 24 receivers, hoping to show scouts and coaches they belong in the league, to gather in Southern California on a March day than it is to get a similar group together in Kansas. Since his arrival in Tampa Bay, I don’t think there’s been any doubt about teammates respecting Freeman.
Some very interesting tweets by New Orleans running back Reggie Bush (on his verified Twitter account) shortly after the Saints traded back into the first round to take Alabama running back Mark Ingram late in the first round of the draft.

“It’s been fun New Orleans,’’ Bush said in his first tweet.

A bit later, he came back with something much more diplomatic.

“Congrats to Mark Ingram on being selected to New Orleans,’’ Bush said. “He will be a great addition to the Saints backfield just as he was in Alabama.’’

The first reaction is often the one that’s straight from the heart and it sure sounded like Bush thought the addition of Ingram will push him out of New Orleans’ backfield. That’s very understandable and it may come true.

But I’m thinking Bush might have overreacted a bit on this one. He knows better than I do where things really stand. But at the NFL meeting back in March, New Orleans coach Sean Payton gave some pretty strong indications the Saints had every intention of keeping Bush. Payton implied the Saints had talked, prior to the lockout, with Bush and his agent about some sort of contract extension that would keep him with the team and spread out the last very large chunk of money from his initial contract.

Say what you want about Bush’s production since he came into the league as the No. 2 overall pick in 2006. But Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis always have seemed to view Bush as a very important part of their team. When he’s been healthy, Bush has done some very good things for New Orleans.

Does the addition of Ingram make Bush expendable? I’m not convinced that’s the case, although Bush seems to be. The Saints now have Ingram, who is a very complete running back. They also re-signed Pierre Thomas to a contract extension prior to the lockout. They also have Chris Ivory, who emerged as a solid running back in his rookie season, mainly due to injuries to Bush and Thomas. And don't forget Lynell Hamilton, who showed some promise before missing last season with an injury.

But last year showed the Saints they never can have enough quality running backs. They ran out of healthy running backs in the playoff loss to Seattle.

Bush may see things differently and he may know more about what was discussed before the lockout. But I’m thinking the Saints may still want to keep him. Trading him may not be an easy task due to his large salary. Simply releasing a talent like Bush might not be all that appealing to the Saints.

They already had Deuce McAllister when they drafted Bush. Payton has said numerous times that one of the first things he did after drafting Bush was to sit both running backs down and tell them there was plenty of room for both of them in the backfield.

Payton might be having that conversation with Bush again in the coming days.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I just finished a news conference with Carolina coach Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney, walked out and got hit with the news the Atlanta Falcons had traded up to grab wide receiver Julio Jones at No. 6.

Wow, that’s a leap. In fact, it’s such a big leap that further analysis on new Carolina quarterback Cam Newton can wait a bit.

[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireThe Atlanta Falcons traded away most of this year's draft in order to select Julio Jones.
My first reaction as a reporter was to say to myself, “What does Roddy White think?’’, so I turned to White’s verified Twitter account.

His first reaction: “Well we got Julio Jones. I’m excited.’’

Apparently, White then saw the same details on the trade that I saw. The Falcons gave up their first-round pick (No. 27) this year as well as their second- and fourth-round picks in this draft. They also gave up their first- and fourth-round picks in 2012 to move up to No. 6 to grab Jones.

“Well, I was wrong,’’ White tweeted exactly a minute later. “We give up our draft.’’

White’s pretty much right. The Falcons basically gave up most of this year’s draft to get Jones. He’s a playmaking receiver from Alabama and, in theory, he and White should team together to provide franchise quarterback Matt Ryan with a great duo at receiver.

In theory, the Falcons have spent the offseason talking about the need to add an explosive player or two after going 13-3 last season but getting bounced in their first playoff game. In theory, Jones is that explosive player. Pair him with White, tight end Tony Gonzalez on the short routes, Harry Douglas out of the slot and run Michael Turner a fair amount and there shouldn’t be any stopping Atlanta's offense.

But what if all the theories are wrong? And what if the Falcons don’t add an explosive player or two on defense (although I strongly suspect Falcons owner Arthur Blank is going to cough up some big bucks to get a pass-rushing defensive end in free agency)?

They’ll be right back to where they were last season, or maybe worse.

Let’s cut right to the chase: Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith, who just got contract extensions, went out on a big limb on this one. The extensions seemingly give Dimitroff and Smith job security and that may well be true.

But they made a “win-now’’ move on this one. This is the kind of move that could end up looking disastrous in a couple years if Jones doesn’t work out well or if the Falcons somehow take a step back.

They’re not going to have the draft picks to make any quick fix next year.

The Falcons haven’t won a playoff game since Smith, Dimitroff and Ryan have been around. This is the kind of move that’s made when you sense you’re one player away from winning multiple playoff games or even a Super Bowl.

If Jones doesn’t end up being that one player (and Blank and Dimitroff can't find that pass-rusher), then the Falcons won’t have much ammunition to seek other answers. Yeah, it's short-sighted. But, hey, the Falcons apparently have a Super Bowl in their eyes. We'll see how their vision plays out.

Time for an Easter trip through the NFC South mailbag.

Owen in Chapel Hill, N.C. asks if the Panthers might try to trade for or sign a veteran quarterback as a free agent even if they draft Cam Newton.

Pat Yasinskas: I don’t know for sure, but I think that’s a possibility. When I asked Marty Hurney what kind of support system the Panthers would put in place around Newton, he said he didn’t want to go into any detail until if or when the Panthers draft Newton. But Hurney admitted he’s given a lot of thought to how the team could make Newton’s life easier. One way to do that might be to add a veteran. That guy could even start the season or end up as the starter for the whole season, allowing Newton some time to get comfortable. There are different schools of thought on this. Atlanta threw Matt Ryan into the mix from the start. Tampa Bay made a decision early on that Josh Freeman wouldn’t even get on the field until at least the midway point of his first season. You can’t argue with the results in either of those situations.


Russell in Asheville, N.C. asks me to name one quarterback who has won a Super Bowl that has a playing style similar to Newton’s. He also said Newton’s a run-first quarterback.

Pat Yasinskas: I’ll give you two – Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. Now, I’m not saying Rodgers and Newton are the same guy. Rodgers isn’t as big and his style of running is based more on elusiveness, but his feet are a big part of the reason for his success. Talk to scouts around the NFL and ask them to compare Newton to a current quarterback and the name you hear most often is Roethlisberger’s, although you’ll also hear Freeman’s from time to time. Those are both big strong guys and it’s not easy for them to get hurt when they’re running in the open field. But they’re not just runners. They’re very good passers who use their feet to open things up even more in the passing game. Besides, I don’t think Newton will be a run-first quarterback in Carolina’s offense. The Panthers are putting in a scheme similar to San Diego’s and there are no plans to install the Auburn offense. They’re not going to ask Newton to come in and be Michael Vick.


Robert in Sterling, Va. asks which receivers the Falcons might be interested in early in the draft.

Pat Yasinskas: A lot of people keep throwing out the names of Jerrel Jernigan and Titus Young. Jernigan is 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds. Young is a little taller, but at least 10 pounds lighter. Both guys can fly, but I just have a hard time seeing the Falcons taking an undersized slot receiver in the first round. Those guys, or guys like them could be considerations in the second round or later. If the Falcons go with a receiver in the first round, I think it will be Maryland’s Torrey Smith or Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin. Both have good size and eventually could develop into upgrades over current starter Michael Jenkins. If you take a receiver in the first round, he better be a guy you think can be a starter in a year or two. Also, I’ve been hearing the names of Smith and Baldwin connected to the Falcons a lot in the past week or so.


Gur in Edgware, United Kingdom wrote to ponder if Raheem Morris on Twitter might be more entertaining than Roddy White on Twitter.

Pat Yasinskas: Hmm, good question. Morris is a highly entertaining guy and so is White. But the difference is White is a player and Morris is a coach. As much as I’m sure some high-ranking members of the Falcons would like to throw White’s Twitter account in Lake Lanier, he’s a player and he does have certain rights to express himself. Morris is an NFL head coach, which, at least in theory means, he should have a filter and use some discretion. As a member of the media, I really appreciate the fact Morris is entertaining and a good quote because that makes my job more fun. But there are certain times he might be wise to tone things down just a bit.


Matt in Miami wonders if defensive tackle Phil Taylor would be a good move for the Saints and asks if drafting him would allow the team to move Sedrick Ellis to defensive end.

Pat Yasinskas: I’ve seen the Baylor defensive tackle tied to the Saints in some mock drafts and it wouldn’t surprise me if he landed in New Orleans. But I don’t think the Saints would be drafting him with their main intention being a move of Ellis to defensive end. Ellis is becoming a very good defensive tackle. They also signed Shaun Rogers just before the lockout. Even with those two, the Saints could use another solid defensive tackle. Like most teams, they like to rotate their defensive linemen and Taylor would give them the chance to have a high-quality rotation.

Around the NFC South

April, 22, 2011
4/22/11
11:00
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Time for a trip through the headlines around the NFC South.

Mike Mayock writes that he’s not convinced the Carolina Panthers are going to draft Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. I see things from a different direction. While no final decision has been made, I think the Panthers are leaning strongly toward Newton. They’re down to their final meetings and unless someone can talk general manager Marty Hurney out of taking Newton (or Hurney talks himself out of the move), I think it’s going to happen. I really don’t see any team offering a trade that would entice Carolina to move out of the No. 1 spot.

Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said he’s disappointed by the arrests on driving-under-the-influence charges of several staff members in recent months and is thankful that no one has been injured.

Mike Triplett takes a look at New Orleans’ defensive tackle situation. Even though the team signed Shaun Rogers before the lockout, a defensive tackle in the draft remains a possibility. Remi Ayodele and Anthony Hargrove are potential free agents.

Atlanta wide receiver Roddy White reportedly filled out an arrest application for a man who wants White to pay him $10,000 to get three of his game jerseys back. White reportedly gave them to the man, who was supposed to frame them for a much lower price. The story doesn’t indicate if White filled out the application with a pen or via his always-interesting Twitter account.

It's schedule day in the NFL

April, 19, 2011
4/19/11
10:17
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Tuesday is somewhat of a national holiday in the NFC South and throughout the National Football League.

This is the day the NFL will announce its schedule for the 2011 regular season. Actually playing that regular season, of course, will be contingent on a new labor agreement being worked out. But the league is proceeding with business as usual on the scheduling end.

The announcement is coming at 7 p.m. ET, and as soon as I have a chance to process the schedule, I’ll have full analysis on the slate for each of the four NFC South teams. That should be up soon after 7 p.m.

For those who don’t remember which opponents each team is supposed to face, you can get the complete listing for each team by clicking here.

We already know the Buccaneers are scheduled to “host’’ an Oct. 23 game with the Chicago Bears in London. That’s not a prime-time game, but it’s definitely a showcase game. It should be interesting to see how the Bucs and the rest of the NFC South fares when it comes to prime-time games.

My guess -- and this is only a guess -- is that the New Orleans Saints will get the Thursday night game to open the season against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. It makes too much sense not to have the last two Super Bowl champions open the season against one another. I’ll also guess the Saints get two other prime-time games.

I’ll put the Falcons in the same category and guess that they end up with three prime-time games. They were 13-3 last season, have a quarterback with national appeal (Matt Ryan) and a receiver capable of starting a Twitter controversy (Roddy White) at any time. I'll also guess and say that at least one of the two meetings between the Saints and Falcons will be shown in prime time, and we'll see if Remi Ayodele and his New Orleans teammates do any postgame logo dancing.

The Bucs? Well, that’s a tough one to call. They went 10-6 last season and appear to be a young team on the rise. They’re also a team with attendance problems at home. I’ll speculate and say the Bucs get one prime-time appearance and I’m guessing it will be on the road. I'm also hearing the Bucs still are a very legitimate candidate to be featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks'' this summer, assuming there is labor peace and training camp.

As far as the Panthers, I doubt the league will be giving any prime-time games to a team that went 2-14 last season fans. Carolina fans will probably be looking at a lot of 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Random NFC South thoughts, notes

April, 18, 2011
4/18/11
7:30
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Some random thoughts and a couple of notes on a Monday evening.

Watching Roddy White run wild on Twitter makes me wish the technology had been invented back when Todd Sauerbrun was punting for the Carolina Panthers. White’s got a habit of saying way too much. Sauerbrun, who was nicknamed “Stifler’’ after the character in the “American Pie’’ movies by his teammates, had absolutely no filter and would say the first thing that popped into his mind in the exact way he thought it. He would have taken Twitter to a whole different level and the Gramatica brothers should be glad this thing wasn’t around back when Sauerbrun was in the league and relevant.
  • Speaking of White and Twitter, I’m going to make a prediction. Most of you know that’s something I generally avoid, but I feel pretty confident in this one. Once the lockout ends, the very first thing Atlanta coach Mike Smith is going to do is call White into his office and somebody will be told to stop tweeting.
  • The NFL just sent out its pre-draft release. Nothing newsy in there, just the basic information of when and where the draft will be held and broadcast, the list of compensatory picks and the order for the first round. But the one small item I thought was worth a quick reminder has to do with the time between picks. In the first round, it’s 10 minutes per selection. In the second round, it’s seven minutes. In rounds three through seven, it’s five minutes per pick.
  • The deeper I get into draft stuff, the more I wonder why the first name “Cameron’’ was such a big deal roughly 21 years ago. I mean, just look at any list of top prospects and you’re going to see Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, California defensive end Cameron Jordan and Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward. Was Kirk Cameron on “Growing Pains,’’ which ended in 1992, really that big a deal?
  • For those in Charlotte, I’m scheduled to do a radio interview with 730 AM at approximately 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. Speaking of radio and the Carolinas, I’ll be appearing with our friends on Cat Crave Radio in an edition that’s scheduled to go up Wednesday.
  • A reminder that the entire NFL schedule is supposed to be released Tuesday. As soon as we see the complete package, we’ll have analysis on what each of the four NFC South teams will be facing.

The world according to Roddy White

April, 17, 2011
4/17/11
12:37
PM ET
Back in the 2006 season when I was covering the Carolina Panthers for The Charlotte Observer, co-worker Stan Olson and I had to play the Cover Two defense to handle the team’s two big-name wide receivers.

White
White
Our scheme was simple. If Keyshawn Johnson started talking in the locker room, one of us had to be there with a tape recorder. If Steve Smith started talking, the other one of us had to jump the route. You couldn’t leave Smith and Johnson alone because both of them were capable of saying something brilliant, outrageous or controversial.

Well, technology has changed and that’s good because, sadly, I no longer have Olson as a teammate, although I still talk to him frequently and sometimes join him when he's doing talk radio on Charlotte's WFNZ. The good news is you can cover Atlanta’s Roddy White one on one, at least from a media standpoint.

Yes, I’m installing a new policy here on the NFC South Blog. I’m going to make it a point to check White’s verified Twitter account every day. It’s been an issue before, most recently when White, for no apparent reason, ripped the San Francisco 49ers for keeping quarterback Alex Smith. He followed up by saying two coaches have been fired because of Smith’s performance.

Well, here’s the latest, White later issued an apology to San Francisco fans and said Smith’s a great player. In other news, it sounds like White is rooting for the Hawks in the NBA playoffs, he broke a sweat walking to his car in Phoenix and he apparently bought “ice’’ insurance. If you don’t know what that means, read all of his tweets and you should be able to figure it out.

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