NFC South links: Panthers eye D-line help

Atlanta Falcons

Coach Mike Smith said running back Jacquizz Rodgers is one player who took advantage of his role with the team in 2012. “We thought he was only going to be a change-of-pace back,” Smith said. “We found out very quickly that even though he is short, he is not little. He can handle all three downs and he does a very good job for us returning kicks."

Carolina Panthers

Defensive tackle seems to be one position the Panthers are focusing on improving this offseason. "I think it’s a need. Is it one of our top needs? We’ll see as we go through the free-agency process and the process of scouting these college football players,” coach Ron Rivera said. “But I do know having stout, physical defensive linemen is important. Just ask the linebackers. They’ll tell you how important it is so they can run and make plays.”

Charlotte business leaders continue to offer support to upgrade Bank of America Stadium.

New Orleans Saints

Free-agent left tackle Jermon Bushrod expects talks on a new deal with the Saints to heat up in the near future, but he's unsure if that will result in long-term security. "Truthfully I can't really say what I anticipate on their end because I don't really know what they're thinking," Bushrod said. "As a player, the franchise tag is good, but it's not what a player really wants. In my situation, I played under the [restricted free agent] tender and then played under a two-year deal. So I'd like to have some stability moving forward. I guess it's a good move, but it's still an option. I'm not going to get too worked up about it. I always just go through the mindset of something that I really can't control. We'll see how things work out in the next few days."

The Saints have hired Wesley McGriff as their new secondary coach.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times: "There is nothing harder in football than saying goodbye to it. One day a player is planning on having one more year, and the next he is being told he just had it. Nothing stings worse than the team he gave everything to suggesting he has no more to give. Which leads us to Ronde Barber, the latest Bucs icon. What if this is the end of his time?"