Around the NFC South

Let's take a quick trip through the Sunday headlines around the NFC South.

  • The attorney for Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib says it’s likely a trial for his client on assault charges won’t come until next year. That means that barring a plea agreement or dismissal, the Bucs or the NFL will be the only ones who might force Talib to miss any time this year. The league could suspend Talib, who was suspended for the first game of last season. But players are fighting for amnesty for conduct violations during the lockout, although NFL commissioner Roger Goodell continues to say that infractions during the lockout are subject to punishment. The Bucs also could step in and discipline Talib before the league does. They also could trade or cut him. If the lockout ends and the Bucs don’t do anything with Talib, he could open training camp with his teammates. If discipline for lockout activities is allowed it’s likely to take the NFL some time before issuing suspensions.

  • It looks like Carolina receiver Steve Smith, who is at his best when he’s got a chip on his shoulder, already has found a chip to put on his shoulder wherever he’s at this season. Smith, 32, said many people are saying his skills are diminishing and he’s losing a step. Funny, but I haven’t seen or heard anyone suggest anything close to that. Yes, Smith’s numbers were off last season, but I think that can be blamed totally on poor quarterback play and an antiquated offense.

  • Steve Reed writes that the Panthers may bring in a veteran quarterback who could end up as their opening-day starter. The Panthers have thrown out hints that they’d like a veteran to help mentor Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen and guys like Jake Delhomme and Marc Bulger could be available. But unless the lockout shortens training camp and the preseason, I don’t see the Panthers using a veteran as a "bridge." This team is in a youth movement and it might as well go through the growing process with one of the young guys. Yeah, it might not be a bad idea to have a veteran to help them, but if Clausen and Newton get a full preseason, whoever grasps the play book quicker should be the starter on opening day.

  • Jim Henderson writes that New Orleans running back Reggie Bush has strongly denied a report that he and his agent were given permission to talk to other teams before the lockout. The initial report said that Bush found several teams who said they would pay him more than the Saints were offering in a restructure of his contract.

  • Mike Triplett has a nice feature that looks back at the career of former Saints fullback Buford Johnson, the latest member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.