Around the NFC South

Let’s take a morning jog through the headlines from around the NFC South:


Although some teams have started signing their draft picks, I don’t expect the Falcons to move too quickly in this department. D. Orlando Ledbetter writes that the Falcons’ rookie pool will take up about $3.5 million in cap space. At the moment, the Falcons are only $2.1 million under the cap. But they’ll get a $4.5 million boost after June 1 when the cap hit for released tackle Tyson Clabo will be spread out over this year and next.


The team will get its first on-field look at defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short on Friday when the Panthers begin their rookie camp.


Mike Triplett writes that all signs point to running back Mark Ingram having a bigger impact than he did in his first two seasons. The backfield is a little less crowded with the departure of Chris Ivory and coach Sean Payton has said the running game will be more important than in the past. It also is important to note that Ingram is fully healthy, which hasn’t always been the case since he came out of college. This guy is a former first-round pick and I think the Saints are going to make it a point this season to try to get some return on their investment.


Most Tampa Bay fans are assuming that Ronde Barber, who officially announced his retirement Thursday, is headed straight for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Some of those fans are certain Barber will make it on the first ballot. Ira Kaufman writes that those fans might want to temper their expectations a bit. He points to the fact that only four defensive backs have been elected to the Hall of Fame in the last two decades. Barber’s impressive career and statistics will at least put him in the conversation, but his selection to the Hall of Fame might not be as automatic as people think.