NFC South evening roundup

Time for an evening look at the headlines around the NFC South.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith said Monday that center Todd McClure had knee surgery. Smith described the surgery as minor and said there is at least a chance McClure could be ready for the season opener. If not, the Falcons likely will turn to second-year pro Joe Hawley.

You know there would be stories like this due to rookies missing so much offseason work. Stephen Holder writes that Tampa Bay safety Ahmad Black, a fifth-round pick, faces an uphill battle to make the team. An ankle injury has sidelined him for the last two preseason games and he’s missed a lot of practice time. The coaches couldn’t work with Black during the lockout and that puts him at a big disadvantage. It also doesn’t help that the Bucs are high on backup safeties Corey Lynch and Larry Asante.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera said he hasn’t decided yet how much rookie quarterback Cam Newton will play in the preseason finale against Pittsburgh. This one’s a tough call. Starters typically leave the final preseason game quickly, but Newton needs all the work he can get because he didn’t have the lockout time to spend with the coaches.

Scott Adamson writes that the public outcry over Carolina owner Jerry Richardson asking Newton if he had any tattoos or body piercings is much ado about nothing. I’m not so sure about that. I think it is a pretty big deal and not sure Richardson should be asking those type of questions. Besides, he could have found out the answer in a much more subtle way. He’s got a scouting staff that spent a lot of time around Newton and probably could have told the owner everything about the kid.

New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins said the defense played much better in Sunday night’s preseason win over Oakland.