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Around the NFC South

Let's take a run through the headlines from around the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the fact quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked only four times in three games is “pretty good.’’ But Koetter would like to see the average drop to one sack (or less) per game. Still the offensive line is playing much better than a year ago, when Ryan was sacked 26 times and took a lot of other hits.

With backup tight end Michael Palmer out with an injury, look for Tommy Gallarda to get a lot of playing time Sunday against Carolina. The Falcons don’t like to put all the blocking responsibilities on veteran starter Tony Gonzalez, and they also like to use some two-tight-end sets.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Rookie cornerback Josh Norman said he has his confidence back after getting picked on by Eli Manning and the New York Giants. He better have his confidence back, because he’s going to have to deal with Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones on Sunday.

Here’s a stat that didn’t get very much attention because it was overshadowed by how badly the Panthers lost to the Giants. But linebacker James Anderson set a team regular-season record with 20 tackles in that game.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Mike Triplett writes about how the Saints have fared with the screen pass. Like just about every other part of the offense, it hasn’t been as good as in the past.

The New Orleans offensive line, which has allowed Drew Brees to be pressured more than in recent years, faces a tough challenge Sunday when it faces a Green Bay defense that is tied for second in the league with 12 sacks.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Quarterback Josh Freeman said there’s a learning curve involved with a new offensive system and the offense will improve. It needs to. This offense has a lot of talent, but has yet to produce with any sort of consistency.

For those calling for Freeman to run more often, I doubt that’s going to happen. Coach Greg Schiano said he doesn’t like his quarterback going out of the pocket and exposing himself to injury. Schiano said, when Freeman does run, he wants him sliding to avoid taking big hits.