NFC South weekend mailbag

Kevin in Glen Lyon, PA writes: I'm still concerned with the Falcons’ pass rush. Do you think the additions of Sean Weatherspoon, Corey Peters and a healthy Peria Jerry are enough to provide a good enough support for our DB's? Also, is there a chance we still can sign someone to help that pass rush?

Pat Yasinskas: I think the Falcons are pretty much done making roster moves -- at least significant ones. They really didn’t do anything dramatic with their defensive ends in the offseason. The coaches sincerely believe John Abraham will bounce back from a tough year and that Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury will step up. They think the interior push Jerry will bring will help the entire line and Weatherspoon can be used as a blitzer. More than anything, the coaches believe the improvements in the secondary will help the pass rush because quarterbacks will have to hold the ball longer.

James in Columbia, SC writes: With the cap free year it would seem obvious for the Carolina Panthers to extend the contracts of both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. With an opportunity like this most likely never occurring again, why don't you think that Jerry Richardson/Marty Hurney have done this?

Pat Yasinskas: Right or wrong, Jerry Richardson isn’t handing out big contracts right now. He’s bracing for a lockout in 2011.

Shane in Greer, SC writes: What do you think of the Madden Curse? Drew Brees is on the cover, so what do you think would happen if he say got injured early in the season?

Pat Yasinskas: I’m not a big believer in curses or jinxes. But history has shown there is something about being on the Madden cover. That said, Brees already has shown he can re-write history.

Luke in Virginia writes: Even with the re-signing of Darren Sharper it seems like Malcolm Jenkins will eventually take over that position because of the signing of Patrick Robinson and I believe the Saints have had Jenkins take some snaps at safety. Do you think that is the case?

Pat Yasinskas: We’ll know more when I get to New Orleans’ minicamp June 4 through 6. The Saints have been quiet on their plans for Jenkins so far. But I think it’s fairly obvious they’re thinking about moving him to free safety. They’ve got a bunch of cornerbacks and they need to get Jenkins on the field. Sharper likely still is recovering from his reported micro-fracture knee surgery, so I’m expecting to see Jenkins getting some work at safety when I get to New Orleans.

Jeremy in Reno, NV writes: This seems to be one of the most bipolar offseasons for the Panthers in recent memory. The analysts are all over the spectrum, predicting a potentially strong playoff team, to the third pick in the draft. John Fox always seems to pull out a playoff caliber season when not much is expected of the team. Some say the lame duck year will ruin Fox, others say it will bring out the best of him. What do you think Pat? What seems more likely? A playoff contender Panthers, or a team that picks in the top 5 in 2011?

Pat Yasinskas: I understand why the analysts are all over the board with the Panthers. They have a lot of questions to answer and I can see them going either way. That said, you hit on a good point. Fox is at his best when expectations aren’t high. He’s a good coach and I expect him to coach the heck out of this team and I think Carolina at least contends for a playoff spot.

Seth in Edgewater, MD writes: Gerald McCoy & Brian Price need a nickname.."The Twin Hull's?"

Pat Yasinskas: Not bad. But let’s give Tampa Bay’s rookie defensive tackles a little time to create their own identity.

Christopher in Raleigh, NC writes: It's coming up on the 5th anniversary of the day my son passed away in his sleep at the age of 3 months due to what I was told was S.I.D.S. This time of year is always especially hard for me and when I saw the article you had about the Matt Bryant I wondered if you wrote about that game he kicked the winning field goal against Green Bay the day after he buried his son (something I never could've done!). I found the article and wanted to tell you that I found it therapeutic to read as it took me back to that day where I cried like a baby watching that game. I wish I was a wealthy or scientific man so that I could make sure this never happened to another parent. I will always look up to Matt for what he did and continues to do, and I thank you for writing such a great article.

Pat Yasinskas: Thank you very much for sharing your story. I know there are no easy answers, but I’m glad you were able to get some therapeutic value from Matt Bryant’s story. I have gotten to know Matt and his wife, Melissa, quite well over the last few years and they are great people. I admire their strength and particularly admire Matt’s perseverance. In addition to losing Tryson, Matt also lost his father last year, but has handled that with a lot of strength and dignity.