Time for a Sunday plunge into the NFC South mailbag.
Jim in Myrtle Beach, S.C. says Cam Newton should sit for a year or else the Panthers run the risk of destroying him forever.
Pat Yasinskas: You could be right and that’s happened to other quarterbacks who were thrown in too quickly on bad teams. But, despite their 2-14 record last season, the Panthers feel they have good personnel on the offense. They do have a good offensive line, two good running backs, a top-notch receiver in Steve Smith and two good tight ends with Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey. We’ll see what coach Ron Rivera decides in the coming days. But the Panthers believe they wouldn’t be throwing Newton into a situation where he would have to carry the team. If he can avoid major mistakes and make a few big plays a game, the belief is that he can grow while he’s getting playing time.
Sharell in Raleigh wrote to ask about how the depth of Atlanta’s defensive line might shape up.
Pat Yasinskas: Atlanta suddenly is very deep on the defensive line and that could make it interesting when it’s time to make cuts. Defensive ends Ray Edwards and John Abraham and tackles Peria Jerry, Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux are all going to get a lot of playing time. The Falcons like to rotate defensive lineman and they have a big cluster of backups that includes Trey Lewis as the fourth tackle. Cliff Matthews has had a nice preseason and put himself in the mix with Kroy Biermann, Chauncey Davis and Lawrence Sidbury for the backup spots at defensive end. Davis has a salary-cap figure over $3 million and that could be a factor. If he’s going to be no better than the fourth defensive end, the Falcons might want to keep someone else who will be less expensive.
Nate in Alaska asks why Tampa Bay keeps drawing games in London.
Pat Yasinskas: I think there are two reasons. First, the Glazer family has ties to the United Kingdom. The Glazers own soccer’s Manchester United and, although they might not be beloved by fans, bringing the Bucs to London might help their public profile. Second, the Bucs have been having trouble selling out Raymond James Stadium. If the game against Chicago was held in Tampa, the stadium might be loaded with Bears’ fans and that can be embarrassing. The game in London is pretty much a guaranteed sellout and the crowd won’t be rooting against the Bucs. I don't think the NFL is forcing these games on the Bucs. I think there is a willingness by the team to go overseas.
Mike in Matthews, N.C. wonders if the Panthers still might be making some roster moves.
Pat Yasinskas: Yes, I think the signing of Ryan Kalil to a long-term contract cleared up a good bit of salary-cap space and could lead to more moves. Kalil was counting for the franchise tender of $10.16 million. I haven’t seen specifics of his new deal, but you can be sure it knocked down his cap figure for this season. That should give the Panthers room to make some more moves. I expect them to make a move to go get a cornerback with some experience. I also think it’s possible they could make a move for a wide receiver.
Kevin in Brooklyn, N.Y. asks what I think about the Saints’ chances of winning the Super Bowl this season.
Pat Yasinskas: I’ll do my best to ignore what I saw in Saturday night’s preseason game with Houston because preseason games really don’t mean a lot. I think the Saints have a chance to get back to being a Super Bowl contender. They improved their situation at running back by adding Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles. They should be better in the middle of the defensive line with the addition of Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers. Any team with Drew Brees at quarterback has a chance to do great things.