Let's take a run through some news and notes from around the division:
D. Orlando Ledbetter continues his countdown of the top 25 Falcons with tight end Tony Gonzalez at No. 2. If you’re going by lifetime achievements, Gonzalez might even be worthy of No. 1 ahead of quarterback Matt Ryan. But, at this point in his career, I’d rate Gonzalez after Ryan and receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The Falcons released wide receiver Tim Toone.
One reason I admire Carolina coach Ron Rivera is that he’s a realist. As he candidly tells Scott Fowler, Rivera knows this is a crucial year for him. I think it’s pretty fair to say that anything less than a playoff berth isn’t going to satisfy owner Jerry Richardson.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Larry Holder reports that linebacker Victor Butler, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Patrick Robinson will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Butler tore his ACL during the offseason program and is expected to eventually go on injured reserve. The injuries to Robinson and Harper aren’t believed to be as serious and they could return during camp.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
On his list of five players who must come through this season, Roy Cummings includes the usual suspects like quarterback Josh Freeman, but he also brings up a good point by listing safety Mark Barrron. The team’s top draft pick last year, Barron didn’t shine as a rookie. He should have a better chance to stand out this year. The arrival of free safety Dashon Goldson will allow Barron to spend more time in the box, where he’s at his best.