Hitting the NFC South hot spots

Time for a plunge into the NFC South mailbag.

Nate in Palmer, Alaska asks if there’s any update on Cadillac Williams.

Pat Yasinskas: Not really. He wasn’t at the two recent workouts, led by Josh Freeman, that I’ve attended. But I do know Williams worked out with Freeman and some others at IMG Academy in Bradenton not too long ago and has joined his teammates at other times this offseason. Williams is scheduled to be a free agent whenever the lockout ends. He has said he wants to test free agency. The Bucs have said they’d like to keep him in the third-down-back role he filled so nicely the second half of last season and Williams is a great locker-room guy. We’ll see how it plays out. But, sometimes, the role and salary a player wants for himself and the role and salary a team projects for him don’t mesh.

James in Charlotte asks what’s the status of quarterback Matt Moore with Carolina.

Pat Yasinskas: He’s not under contract for 2011. With the Panthers using a first-round pick on Cam Newton this year and a second-round pick on Jimmy Clausen last year, I don’t see any real future for Moore with the Panthers. I do think he can be a decent backup somewhere else.

Kayin in Iraq wrote to say there’s been a lot of reports about possible trades and potential free-agent signings and asks at what point teams would violate tampering rules.

Pat Yasinskas: We’re in a unique year due to the lockout and fans and media have been speculating about moves that could come when the lockout is lifted. That’s mainly because we don’t have much else to do. Teams can’t talk to their own players and they certainly can’t talk to potential free agents from other teams. If they do, that would violate the tampering rule. As far as teams discussing possible trades, I don’t think there are any rules against that, but no trades can be made while the lockout is in place.

Derrek in Slidell, La. says we should do Power Rankings on best game environments and best fans.

Pat Yasinskas: Careful what you wish for. I can’t give away all our plans. But I can tell you that if the lockout continues to linger, you just might see some of what you suggested – and more along those same lines -- this summer.

John in Houston asks what New Orleans defensive tackle Shaun Rogers has been up to in the offseason, if he’s been working out with the other Saints and keeping himself in shape.

Pat Yasinskas: I recently heard from someone close to Rogers that he’s been rehabilitating an injury on his own and is in very good shape. He hasn’t joined the Saints yet for any of their workouts, but don’t be surprised if it happens once the rehabilitation is completely done.

Denzel is Houston asks what kind of rookie seasons Cam Newton, Mark Ingram and Julio Jones will have if training camps are shortened.

Pat Yasinskas: That scenario could cause problems for those three players and just about any rookie. Let’s say there is labor peace sometime after training camps should have started and the start of the regular season stays on schedule. It could take some time for draft picks to get signed, and every missed practice session hurts rookies. As a quarterback, Newton stands to lose the most. The Panthers won’t be able to put him out there right away if he hasn’t had enough practice time. It could also be an issue for Jones because wide receivers, historically, start slowly. Again, in general terms, rookie running backs usually make an impact pretty quickly. I’d guess that Ingram would have the fastest impact of the guys you mentioned in that scenario.

Brad in Lancaster, Pa. asks if Cam Newton can mirror Josh Freeman.

Pat Yasinskas: Newton has frequently been compared to Freeman and Ben Roethlisberger. He’s a big, strong quarterback who can scramble out of the pocket. Guys like Freeman and Roethlisberger can get downfield because they’re big enough and strong enough that they usually can endure hits from linebackers and defensive backs without much risk of injury. Funny you should ask about the comparison now. A few days ago, I was talking to Freeman and said I thought Newton is a lot like him. Freeman nodded and said, “Yeah, but Cam’s got way better speed than I do.’’