I suspect it’s because there’s wide-spread optimism that a labor deal will be done soon, but our Friday NFC South chat was one of the more lively ones we’ve had in several months. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
Felipe (Los Angeles): So what's the latest on the Buc's Brian Price, and just who difficult is it to recover from an injury like that?
Pat Yasinskas: Very rare injury and he's got a lot of work to do. Don't see him ready for camp and maybe not for start of regular season.
Stephen (Lubbock, TX): Being the only Panthers fan in West Texas, I catch a lot of flak. I was wondering if you still have faith in Jimmy Clausen. I mean Troy Aikman went 0-11 in his rookie season, and was the lowest completion percentage that year. I believe Clausen still has potential, but with Cam there how is he going to prove it?
Pat Yasinskas: It's tough to get real excited about Clausen after his rookie year. But there are people in the organization who think he can still be a decent QB and isn't going to just surrender the battle with Cam for the starting job. But, obviously, the odds are stacked against him because they used No. 1 pick on Cam.
Paterno (Happy Valley): Is (Ray) Edwards to ATL a done deal in your mind, or does TD have a secret plan we don't know about?
Pat Yasinskas: I think that's the most-likely scenario. But I wouldn't be surprised if they at least try to make a run at Charles Johnson. Obviously, Carolina's going to do everything possible to try to keep him.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL): If I was going to start an NFL franchise around a quarterback for the next decade I would choose Aaron Rodgers. If you were going to start an NFL franchise around one quarterback for the next decade, which means Brady and Manning are out of the equation, who would you pick and why? If you pick Rodgers, who would be your second pick?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, I cover the NFC South, so I'll throw Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman out there. Rodgers is excellent. I don't see Ryan as being too far behind him. In a couple years, Freeman could be better than both of them. His upside is scary.
Divyesh (Cleveland): Pat, I was really surprised with Joyner's comments about the Falcons' defense as a Falcons fan. Do you agree that Atlanta is an Edwards or a Johnson away from an elite defense? I would argue that there is still a lot of work to be done. If, however, that DE will put Smith's team over the top, with that offense and special teams, are they the Super Bowl favorite out of the NFC?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, I think a DE would help tremendously. But there are couple other things that need to happen for that defense to become really good. Peria Jerry has to be healthy and become the player they thought he was when they drafted him. Weatherspoon has to stay healthy. And the two young safeties have to continue to improve.
Scott (Northglenn, CO): Was the high number of interceptions Drew Brees threw last year an aberration? Do you see him returning to that MVP-caliber level of play we have come to expect?
Pat Yasinskas: Yeah, I still think there might have been a little more going on with his knee than we ever really heard about. I think that was a factor. All indications are he's healthy now and I expect him to bounce back nicely.
Here’s the complete transcript from Friday’s NFC South chat.