Time for a Friday morning run through the top headlines from around the division:
A lot of times, there’s an unwritten rule between coaches and general managers that says the guy that’s getting paid gets to play, no matter what. That’s not being followed in Atlanta, and I salute the Falcons for doing what’s right for their team. They’ve let highly paid defensive end Ray Edwards become a part-time player and turned Kroy Biermann into something close to an every-down player. Biermann’s versatility is a perfect fit in coordinator Mike Nolan’s scheme. Biermann can rush the passer, play the run and also drop into coverage.
NBA legend Michael Jordan had some advice for quarterback Cam Newton. Jordan said the burden of carrying a team can be too much for one man, and Newton needs the support of his teammates.
Left tackle Jordan Gross set a new franchise record with his 142nd consecutive start last Sunday. The milestone went largely unnoticed because of all the chaos in Carolina, and that’s a shame. Through good times and bad, Gross has been one of the best and classiest players in the NFC South.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Bradley Handwerger writes that New Orleans’ offensive players say they’re as much to blame for the team’s struggles as the defense. That’s true. There’s no question the defense has been horrible. But the Saints have an extremely talented offense that should be carrying this team. That’s not happening, because the offense hasn’t been nearly as consistent as it was in recent years.
Running back Darren Sproles missed Thursday’s practice with a hand injury. If Sproles isn’t ready to go Monday night, Chris Ivory finally could get some action.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Mark Cook points out a significant statistic. In the game cornerback Aqib Talib was suspended in 2010 and the three games he’s been suspended this season, the Bucs are 3-1. Yes, the guy was talented, but he was also troubled and, after trading Talib to New England on Thursday, this team can go on without him.
Martin Fennelly recalls that coach Greg Schiano said “You’ve got to trust us on this one’’ back when Talib was first suspended for using a banned performance-enhancing substance. A lot of people thought Schiano, who also said he expected to keep Talib, was being hypocritical. He wasn’t. As Fennelly points out now, Schiano might have gained more trust by unloading Talib.