Around the NFC South

Time for a trip through the headlines around the NFC South.

We’ve heard plenty of stories about what NFL players are doing during the lockout. Chad Ochocinco is playing soccer and others are boxing or taking part in mixed-martial arts. Other guys are working out on their own or in groups and some are doing it in the towns where they went to college or in their hometowns. But here’s a story about one member of the Carolina Panthers, who is doing something very different. Carolina offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz is working as the pitching coach for a high school baseball team in South Carolina.

Speaking of football players in different settings, Atlanta defensive tackle Corey Peters is one of the players featured in a documentary about guys who weren’t first-round picks trying to make it in the NFL.

And staying with that theme, Tampa Bay defensive end Stylez G. White is breaking into the field of sports talk radio.

Mike Triplett takes an in-depth look at how and why the Saints chose Deuce McAllister with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2001 draft. They didn’t have running back as a high need because they already had Ricky Williams. But they thought McAllister was one of the top players in the draft and they didn’t pass him up. He turned into one of the most beloved players in franchise history. Makes you wonder if we could see something similar if Alabama running back Mark Ingram is sitting there at No. 24 in this year’s draft.

Joe Fortenbaugh writes that the Carolina Panthers might be setting up a smoke screen as just about every draft guru has them taking Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick. You always have to wonder about teams playing games at this time of year, and it’s possible the Panthers are trying to entice another team to trade up and get Newton. But there are two reasons why I don’t think this is the case on this one. First, it’s going to be very difficult to find any team willing to trade up to No. 1. Second, Carolina general manager Marty Hurney is a no-frills guy, who doesn’t have time for games. I can assure you, Hurney is not calling up select media members and saying “Do me a favor. Write a story that we’re going to take Newton and maybe that will convince some other team to want to trade up’’.

Bradley Handwerger reports that New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas is out of the walking boot he had been wearing since his ankle surgery.