Around the NFC South

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- I’ll be heading out to watch the Falcons’ morning practice in a little bit and will be back with more later on. The Camp Confidential profile on the New Orleans Saints also will pop up on the blog a little later Monday. In the meantime, let’s take a spin around the division.

  • First off, Mel Kiper Jr. has his NFC South Summer Audits, in which he checks in on what all four teams did on the offseason.

  • Carolina fullback Mike Tolbert uses boxing as part of his offseason training program. I know a fair amount of players around the NFL have dabbled with mixed-martial arts in recent years. I don’t know if being able to fight really helps them with football skills, but it certainly helps with conditioning.

  • The Panthers used the 3-4 defense a little bit last season. They’re saying they’ll use it even more in 2012, although their base will remain the 4-3. Nothing wrong with that. A little variety might help cause some headaches for offenses.

  • Rookie Doug Martin has been getting the bulk of the first-team work early in camp. The Bucs have last year’s starter, LeGarrette Blount, still on the roster. But no one should be surprised that Martin already is ahead of Blount. When the Bucs traded back into the first round to take Martin, it sent a pretty strong signal. You don’t trade back into the first round to get a running back unless you’re planning to play him a lot. It also could be well worth watching how Blount handles his new role. It's not unusual for a guy to pout when he's demoted. New coach Greg Schaino doesn't seem like the kind of guy that will put up with a lot of pouting.

  • Receivers coach P.J. Fleck told Mark Cook that free-agent pickup Vincent Jackson is even better than he initially thought. The Bucs obviously thought pretty highly of Jackson because they gave him a contract worth $50 million.

  • Cornerback Patrick Robinson injured his shoulder in Sunday’s practice. The extent of the injury isn’t known yet. If Robinson has to miss a little practice time, that’s not all bad. It would give second-year pro Johnny Patrick some work as a starter and some valuable experience. The Saints are hoping Patrick will be their nickelback.

  • Six players from Alabama’s defense were drafted in April. Jerrell Harris wasn’t one of them. But the linebacker is making a good early impression on the Atlanta coaching staff.

  • The Falcons went through their first padded practice Sunday afternoon.