Time for an afternoon drive through some odds and ends around the division:
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Gary Shelton writes that quarterback Josh Freeman just isn’t as good as the Buccaneers need him to be, but is better than a lot of his detractors believe. I think that’s a fairly concise and accurate summary of the situation. I think the talent is there for Freeman to be a very good quarterback. But, as he enters the final season of his contract, it’s time for Freeman to put it all together. If not, he’ll be looking for a new place to play next season.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Bradley Handwerger reveals the No. 1 selection on his list of the 10 most impressive wins in the Sean Payton era. It’s not the Super Bowl victory, which came in at No. 2. It’s the 2006 victory against the Falcons in New Orleans. I can’t argue with this choice even though it’s hard to trump a Super Bowl victory. This was the first game back in the Superdome for the Saints after Hurricane Katrina and that was a tremendous emotional lift. Of course, it also helped that Steve Gleason’s punt block became the stuff of legend and that the Saints won.
Larry Holder has the Oct. 6 game against Chicago at No. 5 on the list of most compelling games for the Saints. By that point in the season we should find out if Chicago left tackle Jermon Bushrod really is good or if he was just a product of the system when he was a Pro Bowler in New Orleans.
Max Henson has his overview of the defensive tackle situation. Justifiably, there has been a lot of talk about Carolina’s first two draft picks – Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. But, for the first time in a long time, the Panthers should have some quality depth at defensive tackle. Dwan Edwards could remain a starter in the short term. Sione Fua and Frank Kearse aren’t bad and Colin Cole could be a sleeper if he can stay healthy.
Daniel Cox writes that Atlanta’s Jonathan Massaquoi hopes he’s ready to contribute more as a defensive end after being limited mostly to special teams as a rookie. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Falcons have a bunch of young defensive ends and Massaquoi is the one the coaching staff is most optimistic about.
The Falcons are holding a contest to name a new sandwich that will be sold at their training camp. It looks good, but I think I’ll pass on it when I visit Flowery Branch because I’m trying to maintain my playing weight.