Time to take a look at the top Thursday morning headlines from around the NFC South:
Receiver Roddy White said the Falcons have the pedigree to go 16-0. I don’t know about pedigree, but I look at Atlanta’s schedule and see a December game with the Giants as the only big concern.
The Falcons aren’t feeling a lot of sympathy for the Saints and all they’re going through with the bounty scandal. That’s no surprise. These two teams don’t like each other and I’ll have more on that in a column later Thursday.
With return man Kealoha Pilares out for the season, rookie Joe Adams is expected to get his first playing time since being benched early in the season. Adams definitely has some potential, but needs to hold onto the ball if he’s going to stay on the field.
The Panthers have lots of respect for Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, but they know the only way to slow him down is to come after him with a strong pass rush.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Right tackle Zach Strief suffered a groin injury in Monday night’s victory. If Strief can’t play Sunday, Charles Brown would start in his place.
After rushing for 48 yards on 10 carries Monday night, running back Chris Ivory said he’s still perplexed about why he didn’t get more playing time earlier in the season. I think the answer is pretty obvious. Ivory was behind Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram on the depth chart
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
There’s a lot of sudden hype about rookie running back Doug Martin, but Tom Jones writes it’s not too early to say he’s a special player. I agree. It is too early to say Martin’s headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame because he needs to show he can produce over the long haul. But Martin already has shown he’s a very good running back.
Martin Fennelly writes that coach Greg Schiano hasn’t been very consistent with discipline. He didn’t hesitate to unload Tanard Jackson and Aqib Talib, but safety Ahmad Black still is playing after reportedly being cited for marijuana possession. We still don’t know all the facts about Black’s citation and he has not been arrested. Schiano’s hands might be tied until this situation plays out a little more.