NFC South links: Gauging Weatherspoon

Atlanta Falcons

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is poised to have Pro Bowl season, writes NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal. "When you combine Weatherspoon's natural ability with his effort and attitude, you have a potential difference-maker. You get a leader," Rosenthal writes. But according to Pro Football Focus, Weatherspoon was the worst linebacker in the league over the past three seasons in tackling efficiency, missing a tackle for every 7.1 he attempted.

Former Howard University head coach Carey Bailey and Mississippi Valley State’s assistant coach Ramon Flanigan will take part in the NFL’s minority coaching fellowship program with the Falcons during training camp, reports the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter.

Carolina Panthers

While reiterating his point about the lack of correlation between passing yards and wins on a Thursday conference call with reporters, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith seemed to back off his critical comments of Cam Newton and the Panthers, writes Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. In May, Smith said, "Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that's great. You're not winning, though." But on Thursday, Smith said he "got carried away there" by citing Newton's Panthers as an example.

New Orleans Saints

Unlike the other three players suspended in the Saints bounty case, Jonathan Vilma is to begin his suspension right away, reports Profootballtalk's Mike Florio. So Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, is trying to get a temporary restraining order pending a hearing on a preliminary injunction to delay his suspension.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah speaks out on NFL's appeals process.

Linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne are in the top 10 in the league the past three seasons when it comes to total tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Times' Stephen F. Holder examines the new-look Bucs receiving corps.