John in Denver writes: This past off season the focus has been on the Falcons pass rush. My take has been that the overwhelming consensus has been they should have taken a DE. The Falcons focused more on the interior. My questions is why doesn't that count? A surge in the line is a surge in the line. If the DT's are causing havoc then the DE's should have more opportunities. Am I missing something? Why no love for the DT's?
Pat Yasinskas: It’s a natural question for the national media. The Falcons didn’t have much of a pass rush last year and they didn’t go out and get any big names at defensive end. That said, you’ve got a point. They should be stronger in the middle of the defensive line and that should help the guys on the outside. That’s the logic the Falcons followed and we’ll see how it works out.
Jacob in Atlanta writes: You used the word peripatetic to describe T.O. recently. Here's what dictionary.com says: ?adjective 1. walking or traveling about; itinerant. 2. ( initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to Aristotle, who taught philosophy while walking in the Lyceum of ancient Athens. 3. ( initial capital letter ) of or pertaining to the Aristotelian school of philosophy. I hardly think T.O. and Aristotle are similar!
Pat Yasinskas: Actually, it was my colleague, good friend and mentor Len Pasquarelli who used that word to describe Terrell Owens. Len has a much more expansive vocabulary than I do. I never would have used the term “peripatetic’’ to describe anyone because I’ve got no idea what the word means. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the word until you brought it to my attention.
Glenn in Rock Hill, S.C. writes: My question is do you see Derrick Ward breaking out this year being in a system for a full offseason and seeing it go into effect from training camp throughout the year(Jeff Jagodzski incident)?
Pat Yasinskas: No question the Bucs didn’t get as much out of Ward as they were hoping for when they signed him last year. But part of that was because Cadillac Williams made such a strong return from injury and is a favorite of the coaching staff. That staff wasn’t enamored by what it saw out of Ward last year. There still is some talent there, but Ward needs to show a lot more in camp to earn more playing time.
Mike in Pittsburgh: In reading a lot of previews for the Panthers, I notice that people are down on the linebacking corps after Thomas Davis's injury. While I agree it is a loss, I also remember that the Panthers D played its best football *after* he went to IR (This is not even mentioning Na'il Diggs was out with injury frequently too). Point being, our great depth at the position really helped us out there. Now, we've added two good pieces in Eric Norwood and Jamar Williams, yet people still seem to think that losing Davis is the difference between our LBs being average and great. Am I alone in thinking this is something of an overreaction?
Pat Yasinskas: There’s no question losing Davis hurts. He’s a great player. But it’s not like the cupboard is bare. Jon Beason is a top-notch linebacker and linebackers always seem to play well in John Fox’s defense. There might be a little dropoff without Davis, but Norwood, Williams, James Anderson and Dan Connor give the Panthers some decent options.
Vinnie in Atlanta writes: I like the Falcons' and Bucs' new unis, but the throwbacks they wore last year were cool. I could see visions of Steve Bartkowski in the Falcons' throwbacks, and who doesn't like the creamsicle Bucs' throwback if only for a couple of games. Are there any plans to wear these unis this year? As you know, teams do this to sell more merchandise.
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, the Bucs plan to wear their throwback uniforms for the game against Atlanta when they induct John McKay into the team’s Ring of Honor. The Falcons will not wear throwbacks for that game. But stay tuned. I think there might be an announcement coming about Atlanta wearing throwbacks for a home game.