NFC South not big on 'bubbles'

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The phrase "practice bubble" has become a big deal in the NFL since the Dallas Cowboys indoor practice facility collapsed during a storm Sunday.

The NFC South is not big on indoor practice facilities. Part of that's because the region doesn't get the cold weather so many other areas do. Tampa Bay and Carolina do not have indoor practice facilities.

Atlanta and New Orleans do, although neither facility is the classic "bubble'', which essentially is a tarp over a practice field. New Orleans' indoor field is weaved into the construction of the rest of the complex. Atlanta's facility stands alone and is commonly called "the barn" by people within the organization.

The Saints and Falcons don't use their facilities a lot, but they can turn to them when rain gets heavy or the heat becomes too intense. Atlanta built its indoor field when the Falcons moved their headquarters to Flowery Branch in 2000.

The Saints added their indoor complex to their existing facility in 2003. The Bucs have done without an indoor facility throughout their existence. At various times, they've resorted to working out at a local armory or high school gymnasiums when weather has been extreme.

Carolina coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney have a long-standing, but cordial disagreement on an indoor facility. Fox wants one. Hurney doesn't. So far, Hurney holds the upper hand on that one. When the weather gets extremely bad, the Panthers pack up and practice at an indoor sports complex about 10 miles from their facility. If the weather is bad on the day of a light practice, the Panthers sometimes will hold a walk-through in a tunnel at Bank of America Stadium.