Around the NFC South

Let's take a look at the morning's top headlines from around the NFC South.

  • The Times-Picayune continues its series of the top 25 Saints with defensive end Will Smith at No. 7. My first thought is that seems a little high for a guy that’s been a bit inconsistent in recent years and is facing a four-game suspension to start the season. But Smith still is the biggest pass-rushing threat the Saints have on the defensive line and that’s important in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. He could justify that ranking or even improve it with a season of double-digit sacks.

  • In a related matter, Bradley Handwerger wonders if the defensive line will be revitalized under Spagnuolo. It remains to be seen where the pass rush will come from. Defensive end Martez Wilson, who is making the move from linebacker, is one possibility. But I think the arrival of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley should provide a nice upgrade in the middle of the defensive line.

  • D. Orlando Ledbetter has an overview of Atlanta’s safeties. Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have been solid starters. With the Falcons suddenly loaded at cornerback, the safeties have a chance to come up with more big plays and perhaps take their game to the next level. The Falcons also added veteran Chris Hope as a backup, which could end up being important because there previously was little depth after DeCoud and Moore.

  • Joseph Person reports that Carolina’s Andre Neblett will lose $135,000 in salary while he’s suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Also, there’s no guarantee Neblett will have a job when he’s eligible to return. The Panthers liked what they saw out of Frank Kearse at the end of last season and he could take over Neblett’s spot in the rotation.

  • Manchester United, the soccer team owned by the Glazer family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, reportedly will start selling its stock as soon as next week. The report also says the initial public offering is designed to raise $300 million and not the $500 million that had been previously reported.