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Around the NFC South

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Carolina Panthers are off this morning and will practice later this afternoon. I’ll be heading over to Wofford College in a bit for the lunch-time media session and, then, taking in the afternoon practice.

In the meantime, let’s take a look around the NFC South.

Atlanta running back Michael Turner continues to talk about how he hopes to bounce back strong after a 2009 season he wasn’t happy with. My take: Turner truly is on a mission to prove his 2008 season wasn’t a one-hit wonder. He’s in great physical condition and that should help the entire Atlanta offense.

Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson said he lost about 20 pounds and is down to 279. My take: This is a very good thing. With Julius Peppers gone, the Panthers are counting on Johnson and others to pick up their production. The quicker Johnson is, the better the chance he can be a force as a pass rusher.

New Orleans receiver Marques Colston has been cleared to practice and is expected to do so for the first time Tuesday. My take: Colston had some minor knee surgery to clean things up. Missing a few days of camp isn’t going to hurt this guy because he’s already on the same page with Drew Brees. I’d expect the Saints to proceed cautiously with Colston throughout camp. In other words, he’ll probably get some practices off. The key here is having the No. 1 receiver healthy and fresh for the regular season.

Tampa Bay running back Derrick Ward says he’s ready to bounce back from a disappointing first season with the Buccaneers. My take: Ward needs a very strong training camp. The coaching staff was less than enamored with him last year. Cadillac Williams, a favorite of the coaches, is the starter and Ward needs to earn the trust of the coaches if he’s going to play much of a role in any sort of rotation.