NFC South: Yao Ming
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
We'll start this afternoon's NFC South mailbag with a pair of differing opinions on my comment that former Tampa Bay fullback Mike Alstott was overrated.
Mitch in Orlando writes: Pat, I have to agree with Ricky in Naples on his assessment of Mike Alstott. Your number one argument has always been that Alstott was a fullback, and therefore, should have been a better blocker. The problem with that argument is that Alstott was rarely used as a fullback until his final season with the Bucs. He was used as a complementary tailback for years, and rarely called upon to block. If you remember, the team used Jameel Cook and even Michael Pittman to block FOR Alstott. Alstott was always listed as a fullback for Pro Bowl reasons because people always wanted to see him there, just as Tim Duncan was listed as a power forward last year because he couldn't beat out Yao Ming to start at center. In Alstott's final season, he actually was moved to the starter at fullback for the Bucs, and he did rather well there. As a diehard Bucs fan, I would love to see Alstott in the Hall of Fame, but I can't really say he deserves it; however, he certainly does not deserve to be called over-rated.
Brian in Oldsmar, Fla. writes: Just have to say I agree with you about Alstott being overrated. I've been a Bucs fan since the late 80's, and have loved the A-Train from when he came to the team in 96 (If I remember right) to his retirement a few years back. He was a great teammate, person, and player. He had the respect of his peers across the league and was one of the toughest runners the NFL's seen since Csonka and Riggins. Some of the runs he made, especially the goal line carries, were staples of sports highlights for many years. All that said, Mike Alstott was a sub-par blocker. Always was, even in his days at Purdue. As much as I love what Mike did for the Bucs and the Bay area, I think many fans blow his accomplishments out of proportion. Sure his running style could electrify a stadium, and he was perfect as a change of pace back to compliment Dunn, Pittman, or whoever else was carrying the majority of the load. But, is he Canton material? I don't think so at all.
Pat Yasinskas: Both of your points are noted. Again, I'm not saying Alstott was a bad player. He was a very good one. But I think some Tampa Bay fans get carried away and call him the best fullback ever. He wasn't really a fullback -- at least not if you judge the position by the modern era.
Brett in Dallas, Ga. writes: I am surprised that no one voted for Rod Coleman for the all decade team, he was a dominant pass rushing DT for the falcons and most certainly one of the best in the division when healthy.
Pat Yasinskas: Yeah, as much as I agree Warren Sapp and Kris Jenkins deserved to be the defensive tackles on the NFC South all-decade team, it is a bit surprising that Coleman didn't even get a vote. He spent four seasons with the Falcons and had double-digit sacks in 2004 and '05. After a year out of the league, I'm very curious to see what Coleman can do for the Saints this year.
Corey in Charlotte writes: I was wondering what you think the chances of Mike Goodson showing up in the slot or even wildcat formations are this year. I've been getting pretty pumped about seeing him on the field because I believe he's the type of player that can have some immediate impact.
Pat Yasinskas: I'm also curious about what the Panthers will do with Goodson. The fourth-round pick from Texas A&M gives them some flexibility behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. You know any John Fox team is going to use the running backs plenty and I think Goodson could fill several roles. With Nick Goings gone, Goodson could get significant time on passing downs. He caught 37 passes in his final year of college. I also think Goodson will get a look in the return game. Not sure the Panthers will use the Wildcat much, if at all. But Goodson certainly gives them some options.
Pat Yasinskas: Redman is pretty much set as Matt Ryan's backup. That means it will come down to Wilson or Shockley for the final roster spot. I give Shockley a slight edge entering camp because he's been in this offense for a year. I also thought he looked good when I visited Atlanta's minicamp. Wilson could be a candidate for the practice squad.
Carlos in Panama City writes: It has been kind of quiet on the status of Arron Sears and I was wondering if you could tell me what is wrong with him? He is one of our young, marquee players and I hate to see him not playing.
Pat Yasinskas: This is a very real concern because Sears has been a solid starter his first two seasons. The Bucs have said Sears is dealing with a personal issue and been very careful not to discuss the matter further. Unless Sears or the Bucs come out and say something definitive, that's about all that can be reported right now. The team has spent most of the offseason working with Jeremy Zuttah in Sears' place at left guard. We'll see if Sears comes to camp. The Bucs may end up placing him on a reserve list if he's not ready to play.