NFC South: Carolina Panthers

Around the NFC South
June 8, 2012 8:56:35 AM PDT
By Pat Yasinskas

Time for a look at the Friday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

Although the New Orleans Saints have made a new offer to quarterback Drew Brees for a long-term contract, Mike Triplett writes that it doesn’t appear like a deal will be finalized anytime soon. Triplett suggest Saints’ fans stay patient and I think that’s the right approach.

The Atlanta Falcons have sent out hints that their offense will look different this year. They also have repeatedly said running back Michael Turner will have his carries reduced. Turner’s response: "They always say that." There’s some truth in that. In the past, the Falcons have said they wanted to limit Turner’s carries, but he still has gotten a bunch. I think you may see some changes, but Turner still is approaching things the same as he always has. Not a bad idea. Even if Turner’s carries are limited and the Falcons are doing other things on offense, Turner still will be an important part of whatever the Falcons do.

This probably won’t come as a surprise to those that followed receiver Dwayne Jarrett back when he was with the Carolina Panthers. Jarrett had recently signed with the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders amid a lot of hype. But things didn’t go well for Jarrett in Canada and his career is over. Jarrett has retired at 25. As a former second-round pick by the Panthers, it’s not too harsh to call Jarrett a bust. He certainly had some talent, but never blossomed for the Panthers. I covered part of Jarrett’s time in Carolina and the impression I got (reinforced by his former coaches and teammates) was that Jarrett was too laid back. Unlike Steve Smith and some other very successful receivers, Jarrett just didn’t seem to have a lot of drive. Speaking of former USC receivers that were second-round draft picks by Carolina that didn't have a lot of drive, whatever happened to Keary Colbert?

One of the bigger breaks the Panthers caught in the offseason was that offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski didn’t get a job as a head coach. Tight end Greg Olsen recently called Chudzinski one of the greatest offensive minds in the league and I think there’s plenty of truth in that. The Panthers better enjoy the Chudzinski era while they can. If they put up offensive numbers similar to last year, I’m pretty sure Chudzinski will be a head coach somewhere next year.

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano wouldn’t discuss the trade of Kellen Winslow immediately after the move was made. But Schianio finally has admitted what everyone suspected. The coach wasn’t happy because the tight end wasn’t a regular at offseason workouts. Schiano also said he didn’t think Winslow was going to be a good fit with the Buccaneers. Schiano obviously saw a problem brewing and he elected to address it before it could have an impact on the team.

The NFL reportedly has asked the New Orleans Saints for film of Wednesday morning’s minicamp session in which a minor incident between linebacker Curtis Lofton and quarterback Chase Daniel prompted a team-wide skirmish that lasted about one minute to 90 seconds. Contact is not allowed in these workouts and the league is taking that seriously. The NFL recently stripped Seattle of two offseason workout days for violating rules. If the Saints end up getting punished for this one, it’s a shame. I saw the incident. Lofton barely grazed Daniel’s jersey. The quarterback, perhaps a little frustrated that his last few passes weren’t great, threw the ball at Lofton’s feet. That prompted some pushing and shoving between offensive and defensive players. I didn’t see any punches thrown and the whole thing was broken up quickly. I’ve seen plenty of more intense practice outbursts through the years.

The Saints apparently liked what they saw out of quarterback Luke McCown in recent days. They signed him to a contract after he went through a three-day minicamp on a tryout basis. I think the Saints like Daniel as their backup quarterback, but McCown could have a shot to beat out Sean Canfield for the third spot – assuming the Saints carry three quarterbacks.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, NFC South, Steve Smith, Kellen Winslow, Curtis Lofton, Luke McCown, Michael Turner, Canadian Football League, Rob Chudzinski, Dwayne Jarrett, Drew Brees, Keary Colbert, Chase Daniel, Sean Canfield, Greg Olsen, Greg Schiano

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