NFC South weekend hot spots

Let’s take a look into the mailbag to see what’s on the minds of readers across the NFC South.

Jay in Washington, D.C., asks why LeGarrette Blount didn’t get any attention in our Power Rankings of the running backs.

Pat Yasinskas: I’ll promise you right now that if Blount comes out and does what he basically did in half a season last year, he’ll have a vote in the top five on my ballot when we do this next year. The kid had a great rookie year and should only get better as the Bucs continue to add talent around him, quarterback Josh Freeman and receiver Mike Williams.

Michael in St. Petersburg, Fla., wrote to ask whether teams can make any unofficial trades during the lockout or agree to deals that would take place as soon as the labor situation is resolved.

Pat Yasinskas: Officially, no. Now, I suppose there could be some teams that might push this a little bit. But the NFL is really adamant about this and already has fined five teams for having contact with players during lockouts. I think teams would be subject to the same kind of discipline if the league finds out they’re discussing trades.

Brandon in New Orleans asks why I’ve written the Saints might draft a running back and specifically asked for my opinion on Chris Ivory.

Pat Yasinskas: I like Chris Ivory a lot. He came in and really helped save the Saints’ season when Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were banged up. Put those three in the same backfield and use them in a rotation, and the Saints have a pretty good backfield. But the injury history of Bush and Thomas scares me a little. Last season showed you can never have enough running backs. I’m not saying the Saints need to use a first-round pick on a running back. I’d just like to see them add one more quality runner at some point.

CJ in Charlotte wrote to say thanks for sticking up for Carolina fans in the post about the poll that said Panthers’ fans were the worst when it came to loyalty.

Pat Yasinskas: No problem. Like I said, I lived in Charlotte for nearly nine years and know the fan base pretty well. It’s not Green Bay or Pittsburgh, but there are a lot of loyal fans in the Carolinas. People can go ahead and call the Panthers the worst team in football right now, because 2-14 speaks for itself. But don’t insult a fan base that still shows up for games.

Aaj in Tampa asks what the Bucs think of former USF player Tyrone McKenzie.

Pat Yasinskas: Funny you should ask because a question came up about the Bucs and University of South Florida players in our Friday NFC South chat. The reader made brief mention of McKenzie in his question. When I signed off the chat, I had an email waiting from someone within the Bucs. His message was that the coaching staff is very high on McKenzie, who appeared in three games as a backup linebacker and special-teams player last season. I’m not saying McKenzie’s ready to step into a starting job, but it sounds like he might have a role with this team going forward.