NFC South: Walter Payton Award

Around the NFC South

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
9:58
AM ET
Time for a look at the top Friday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith said he believes Matt Ryan has become an elite quarterback. I’ve never quite figured out the definition of an elite quarterback. I do think Ryan is very good, but I’d like to see him win a playoff game before calling him elite.

The Panthers can play the role of spoiler against the Saints. But you know Carolina is making progress when coach Ron Rivera says a loss to the NFC South champions would be disappointing.

Guard Davin Joseph is Tampa Bay’s nominee for the Walter Payton Award.

New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas was fined $7,500 for using a prop to celebrate a touchdown in Monday night’s win against Atlanta. Thomas also was fined $5,000 for wearing red and green tape on his wrists, which the league said violated its uniform policy.

New Orleans rookie Isa Abdul-Quddus is quietly making an impact on special teams and at safety.

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