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Pete Prisco's NFC South Camp Battles to watch

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Previewing the preseason: NFC South By Pete Prisco SportsLine.com Senior Writer http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/6485373 As teams pour into camps this week and the first preseason game quickly approaches (Aug. 2), we look at issues facing each team. Today we start with the ...

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Old 07-19-2003, 12:47 PM   #1
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Pete Prisco's NFC South Camp Battles to watch

Previewing the preseason: NFC South

By Pete Prisco
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/6485373

As teams pour into camps this week and the first preseason game quickly approaches (Aug. 2), we look at issues facing each team. Today we start with the NFC South.


NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons
Camp battle to watch


T.J. Duckett could be the heavy-duty back the Falcons need.(Getty Images)
Is it time for T.J. Duckett to take over as the featured back? He is a big, powerful back who needs more carries, but the team paid big to sign Warrick Dunn last year, and he is a favorite of owner Arthur Blank. Duckett and Dunn might be teamed together some in the backfield, but Duckett has to get more carries.

Hot camp issue

Will the hoopla surrounding his new-level star status impact how Michael Vick gets ready this season? It didn't appear to once he arrived for offseason workouts, and it's doubtful he will let it. He has to work on his footwork this summer, which should help his passing.

Player on the hot seat

When a team gives up a first-round pick and pays you big money, you better produce. That puts a load of pressure on wide receiver Peerless Price. He is now the team's No. 1 receiver, a role some have questioned because he was the No. 2 in Buffalo.

Area that needs fixing

They have to get better play from their corners, which is why they signed Tyrone Williams and Tod McBride away from the Packers. Both could end up starting if Ray Buchanan doesn't get off his butt and start working.

Area that doesn't

When you have Vick at quarterback, you're pretty much set there for years to come. He does need to be better with his accuracy, which means better footwork in the pocket.

Must break camp with this question answered

Who will be the No. 2 receiver opposite Price?

Carolina Panthers
Camp battle to watch

The Panthers signed Jake Delhomme as a free agent, which is a sign they weren't totally sold on having Rodney Peete start again. Chris Weinke then outplayed both of them. Look for this to be a competitive situation throughout training camp.

Hot camp issue

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio left to coach the Jaguars, so there will be a transition period under new coordinator Mike Trgovac. The defense carried this team last season and has to do so again.

Player on the hot seat

Second-year running back DeShaun Foster is coming off a bad knee injury. There are questions whether he can be the same player. If he can, he will push Stephen Davis because he has the big-play ability that Davis doesn't.

Area that needs fixing

The offense ranked 31st in the league last season, which tells you where the focus has to be in this camp. They have signed some new players, but there aren't enough playmakers to make a real difference.

Area that doesn't

The young, athletic defensive front is one of the best in the NFL, and will only get better. Tackle Kris Jenkins and end Julius Peppers are two rising stars. Mike Rucker is underrated.

Must break camp with this question answered

Is the first-team quarterback a guy who can take this team to the playoffs?

New Orleans Saints
Camp battle to watch

The Saints signed Ashley Ambrose with the idea he would be the starting corner opposite Dale Carter. But Fred Thomas responded with a good offseason and will go to camp as the starter. Ambrose and Thomas should battle the entire preseason for this job.

Hot camp issue

Has Aaron Brooks recovered from his shoulder surgery? The Saints say Brooks should be 100 percent when they go to camp. He likely will get time off during camp to rest his shoulder, which will give Todd Bouman a chance to run the team. The Saints have to have a healthy Brooks to push for a Super Bowl berth.

Player on the hot seat

Brooks. Not only is he coming off the injury, but he has to prove that he can assume more of a leadership role on this team. His carefree approach has hurt the team in the past.

Area that needs fixing

The team speed on defense was terrible last season, which led to big plays against them. That was remedied some through free agency and the draft, with safety Tebucky Jones a major addition.

Area that doesn't

The running game is in good hands with Deuce McAllister running behind a powerful offensive line. McAllister will be even more effective when the passing game improves.

Must break camp with this question answered

The weak side and middle linebacker spots are up for grabs, and the Saints need to figure out will start there. There are a lot of players in the mix.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Camp battle to watch

The Bucs got a big running game from Michael Pittman in the Super Bowl, but he had some off-field troubles that have him in hot water. That led to the Bucs trading for Thomas Jones. Neither player has star quality, but somebody has to emerge as a feature back. Second-year player Travis Stephens will get a look.

Hot camp issue

Is 2002 really behind them? Teams have been known to have Super hangovers, so coach Jon Gruden has to make sure that doesn't happen here.

Player on the hot seat

Warren Sapp is entering the final year of his contract, wants a big extension, and is 30 years old. The Bucs might balk at giving a player his age that type of money, especially with DT Anthony McFarland also in the final year of his contract.

Area that needs fixing

The running game was awful last season, and that has to be better. The line wasn't very good and Pittman was a disappointment. It's amazing this team won with that offensive front.

Area that doesn't

With one of the better defenses we've seen, there doesn't have to be much work on that side of the ball. The only concern is some key people are getting up in years.

Must break camp with this question answered

Will an offense that was one-dimensional last year be more balanced?


[Edited on 19/7/2003 by iceshack149]
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Old 07-20-2003, 02:22 PM   #2
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Pete Prisco's NFC South Camp Battles to watch

I thought that y\'all were going to nail this guy\'s article.

\" Area that doesn\'t need fixing

The running game is in good hands with Deuce McAllister running behind a powerful offensive line. McAllister will be even more effective when the passing game improves.\"

This guy doesn\'t say anything about the questionable back ups at running back. This is an area that may prove to be in need of fixing. If there was an area that didn\'t \"need fixing\", I\'d go with receiver.
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Old 07-20-2003, 03:38 PM   #3
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Pete Prisco's NFC South Camp Battles to watch

Noticed that too, but I guess he only divides the game into 4 segments run/pass offense and run/pass defense. He sees Brooks\' health as a question mark, so the passing game may need fixing. And as long as Deuce stays healthy our running game sure doesn\'t need fixing.
I was also surprised that the MLB spot is \"up for grabs\". I don\'t see anyone challenging Ruff or did I miss something? The Sporting News seem to be pretty high on Ruff, this author doesn\'t seem to be.
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Old 07-20-2003, 04:16 PM   #4
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Pete Prisco's NFC South Camp Battles to watch

New Orleans Saints (what he should have said)
Camp battle to watch
Kenny Smith versus Grady Jackson for DT starter with Sullivan.
Has KS finally reached his potential (which most experts predicted he needed a few years to achieve)
Will GJ shed his weight and be the elite DT every scout knows he can be if he wasn\'t 60 lbs overweight

Hot camp issue
Bringing a defense together quickly that may have 7 new starters. Getting all these new guys on the same page takes some time. I expect to see the new starters play a few extra series in each preseason game.

Player on the hot seat (he got this one right).
Haslet may be another hot-seater, but I assume he just means players only.
Brooks must be over his injury and he must show veteran decision making. Shed his \"I\'m no black running QB\" attitude and use the gifts God gave him. Any digression and his days are numbered, especially with his mega contract he demanded.

Area that needs fixing (Needs or needed fixing?)

A) Back-up running back. behind Deuce we have four 3rd stringers and nobody knows who may step up as a legitimate #2 to reduce wear on the NFC\'s best RB.

B) Full back. We lack a true west-coast pass catching FB. While Smith is an excellent blocker, they are a dime a dozen.

Area that doesn\'t
Special teams (or wide receiver)
How could anyone miss either of these positions. Top 2 or 3 units in the whole league!

Must break camp with this question answered
Is Brooks 100% fully recovered? If not, a veteran back-up to Bouman is necessary.

Whether we agree or disagree; its all for Him.
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Old 07-21-2003, 12:44 PM   #5
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Pete Prisco's NFC South Camp Battles to watch

Tweeky you nailed it on the head. I agree with everything you said 100%. Especially the VERY SPECIAL special teams statement!! Those boys deserved much more credit than they obviously get from most. Our very special special teams carried us a long ways last season and will do so again this year. It\'s time they are recognized for all that they contribute such as scoring, field position, blocks etc..
A back up running back is a need. MLB is well it\'s been beat to death, receiver we\'re set, d-line could use improvement GJ lets see what he does in camp. I would love to see ab set the league on fire and answer all the critics but if he falters I also have confidence in Bouman that I didn\'t quite have in jake last year. Bring on the season!!!!
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