Around the NFC South

Linebacker Barrett Ruud, who has been looking for a contract extension for more than a year, said he now is approaching the 2010 season as his final one with Tampa Bay. That’s really the only way Ruud, currently a restricted free agent, can handle this right now. It also would help his case tremendously if he goes out and has a big year. Ruud might have been in line for a huge contract last season if he had made some big plays. He didn’t, but that wasn’t really his fault. If the Bucs could add anything close to a quality defensive tackle in the draft, that should free up Ruud to roam and make some plays.

The Falcons sent out a release a bit earlier with the dates and times for all of their preseason games. But they quickly called back to ask that we hold off a bit on the announcement because one of the games was not fully finalized. As soon as we know it’s official, we’ll let you know.

Former Carolina defensive tackle Damione Lewis officially has signed his new contract with New England.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper gives a slight edge to Ndamukong Suh over Gerald McCoy as the top defensive tackle in the draft. I tend to agree with that, but I think the Bucs would be happy to get either one.

Wide receiver Damian Williams reportedly will have a private workout for the Falcons on Saturday. Atlanta’s brass might want to ask Carolina’s brass about receivers from USC before getting too serious on this one.

The Falcons also reportedly will have workouts with defensive linemen Brian Price and Everson Griffen this weekend. Remember, these are just workouts. This doesn’t mean the Falcons are going to draft all these guys.

The Panthers signed kicker Todd Carter. He’s there as a kickoff specialist. If he shows enough leg, the Panthers might let him handle the void left by Rhys Lloyd’s departure. If not, punter Jason Baker is a fallback option to handle that duty.

Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson writes the team was wise to get quarterback Josh Freeman in last year’s draft rather than waiting until this year to take a quarterback. Completely agree, and as Carlson also points out, Freeman is way ahead of anyone in this year’s draft.