Time for a tour of some odds and ends from around the division:
Michael Cunningham writes about how the Falcons are using a committee approach at running back with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling splitting time with Michael Turner. That makes sense on a lot of levels. Rodgers is showing all sorts of potential, and Snelling is reliable, if unspectacular. Using multiple running backs also is a common theme around the league. In the NFC South alone, New Orleans and Carolina use the committee approach. Only Tampa Bay, with Doug Martin, has a true feature back.
The Falcons reportedly have increased their credit line to $200 million. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re planning to use that money toward the new stadium they are seeking.
Former Carolina safety Mike Minter officially was introduced as the new head coach at Campbell University. The Camels went 1-10 this season. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they get better results with Minter. He knows a thing or two about quick turnarounds. He was on Carolina’s 1-15 team in 2001 and saw how John Fox turned things around and had the Panthers in the Super Bowl in the 2003 season.
The Panthers have started to let quarterback Cam Newton make more audible calls at the line of scrimmage. That seemed to work pretty well Monday night in Philadelphia. Newton’s a smart guy, and it only makes sense to let him audible more often going forward.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The rivalry game between the Saints and Falcons won’t be played until Thursday night, but some other games already have started. New Orleans defensive end Will Smith admitted he’s using some previous comments by Atlanta receiver Roddy White as motivation. When the Saints beat the Falcons in New Orleans a few weeks ago, White implied the Saints didn’t do anything to win the game and the Falcons handed them a victory. If Smith is using the comments as motivation, I’m guessing he’s not the only member of the Saints taking that approach.
Immediately after Thursday night’s game in Atlanta, Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma will leave for Washington D.C. They plan to be present when their attorneys question former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in a hearing on the appeals on suspensions for Vilma and Smith.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a finalist for Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.’’ I’m guessing he’s not going to get too many votes from New Orleans fans.
New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael reportedly is on the radar for Boston College’s coaching vacancy. Makes plenty of sense, because Carmichael is a Boston College graduate and also is viewed as one of the top young offensive minds in the sport.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Stephen Holder writes that offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who was placed on injured reserve this week, probably has played his last snap with the Bucs. That’s a pretty safe assumption. Trueblood, whose contract is up after the season, took a pay cut during the preseason and lost his starting right tackle job early in the season. Even with Tampa Bay’s offensive line enduring all sorts of injuries, he wasn’t able to work his way back onto the field. It’s pretty apparent Trueblood doesn’t have a place in this team’s future plans.
The Bucs announced Wednesday morning that they have signed Derek Hardman to take Trueblood's roster spot. Hardman previously spent some time with the Bucs.
Rick Mayer reports New England tight end Rob Gronkowski bought a $1.6 million house in Tampa. Buc fans shouldn’t read anything into this. Gronkowski isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until 2020, and apparently plans to use the Tampa property as an offseason home. Lots of professional athletes have offseason homes in Tampa, mostly because of the nice climate.