Around the NFC South

Before I start getting ready to travel to Atlanta, let’s take a look at some of the top headlines around the NFC South.

The other members of Atlanta’s offensive line are campaigning for veteran center Todd McClure to make the Pro Bowl. They even had hats made up to tout his candidacy. That’s a very big sign of respect for a player who had done a nice job for a long time and he probably hasn’t received the recognition he deserves. But the other linemen better be filling out tons of Pro Bowl ballots if they want McClure to get selected. It’s going to be difficult for him to get to the Pro Bowl. That’s largely because Carolina’s Ryan Kalil is considered by many to be the best center in the league right now.

Atlanta coach Mike Smith isn’t dwelling on his controversial decision to go for it on fourth and inches in last Sunday’s overtime loss to the Saints. Instead, he’s been focused solely on getting his team ready for Tennessee. I’d expect nothing less from Smith. This guy is a total pro. When he says the loss to New Orleans is behind him, he means it. Smith stood tall through a lot of criticism and he lives by a 24-hour rule. Win or lose, 24 hours after a game is over, Smith doesn’t let himself or his team look back.

Carolina’s Jordan Gross, Byron Bell and Charles Johnson each were fined $7,500 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s loss to the Titans. The Panthers have been drawing way too many penalties. They face a tough task as they travel to Detroit to play a team that has built a reputation for being very physical. The Panthers need to keep their emotions in check against the Lions.

The Bucs will wait until Sunday before deciding on if Tanard Jackson will play against Green Bay. The safety has been dealing with a hamstring injury. If he’s unable to play, the Bucs will use either Corey Lynch or Larry Asante, or a combination of the two, in his place.