Time for a look at the top morning headlines from around the division:
D. Orlando Ledbetter has running back Steven Jackson at No. 10 on his list of the top 25 Falcons. I think, when all is said and done, Jackson could be more than the 10th most important player on this team. He won’t carry the heavy load he did in St. Louis, but he’ll give the Falcons a better running game than they had last year and he also will catch a lot of passes out of the backfield.
Daniel Cox writes that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan likes the maturity he has seen out of rookie linebacker Brian Banks, who hasn’t played football since high school. Banks has a very real chance to make the team as a backup and special-teams player.
Bryan Strickland brings up a good point when he suggests Carolina fans might have been spoiled by having receivers Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad together for so long. Perhaps as a result of that, a lot of fans don’t see Brandon LaFell as an adequate No. 2 receiver. Back in the old days, you could argue whether Smith or Muhammad was No. 1. LaFell is not a threat to overtake Smith as the No. 1 receiver, but he’s a decent No. 2 guy.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Bradley Handwerger points out that from Nov. 10 through Dec. 2, the Saints will play the Cowboys, 49ers, Falcons and Seahawks. That’s a brutal stretch and Handwerger writes that the Nov. 21 game in Atlanta could go a long way in deciding the NFC South race.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Chief operating officer Brian Ford said overall ticket sales have increased by 60 percent over this point a year ago. Ford wouldn’t guarantee that the Bucs will sell enough tickets to have all their game aired live on local television this season, but he sounded optimistic and said the Bucs once again will take advantage of the NFL option to use the 85-percent threshold of general admission tickets to determine if a game will be televised locally.