Hitting the NFC South links

NEW ORLEANS -- Time to catch up on some items of interest that we didn’t get to touch on Sunday.

I know a lot of Atlanta fans got worried when rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was carted off the field late in the game Sunday. Turns out Weatherspoon was cramping up and said he was fine after the game.

Rookie running back LeGarrette Blount was one of the few bright spots for the Buccaneers. He made his NFL debut and got six carries for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Jeff Duncan writes that Garrett Hartley’s job is on the line after he missed a short field goal attempt in overtime against Atlanta. The Saints already have been on the phone to veteran John Carney and he’s expected to come in for a visit this week. We’ve seen the Saints do this in the past with kickers and punters and I think they’re playing with fire here. Yes, Hartley missed an easy kick, but the guy has made some big kicks for this franchise. Kickers are a different breed and you don’t make a change every time they miss a kick. If you do, you’re going to create a very uncomfortable situation at a position that doesn’t come with a big comfort zone.

Tom Sorensen throws out the idea that it might be time for Carolina to trade receiver Steve Smith. Trade away your best player in the middle of a season? Ordinarily, that makes no sense. In this case, though, it might. Carolina’s not going anywhere this year, and the Panthers clearly are in a youth movement. They could probably get a couple of decent draft picks for Smith, who despite his obvious frustration, has kept pretty quiet and hasn’t asked out of Carolina. But the idea of shopping Smith for draft picks no longer seems ludicrous. Carolina is in a position where it could be like a small-market baseball team, selling off its top talent for the future. It might be time to get something for Smith while his value remains high.