NFC South

2012-07-10 12:33:13
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Saints hope Brees is in camp

Falcons

Atlanta hopes to take another step forward this season. The Falcons are a team on the rise and look to make a deeper run in the playoffs in 2012. The talent is there for this team to do well. The defense remains the one question mark for the team. This unit improved last season but still had some struggles throughout the season. If they can play more consistent football, the Falcons can make a Super Bowl run. Atlanta gets camp started July 26 at the Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Ga.

Position battle: Not a whole lot to sort out for the Falcons but one position to watch is cornerback. The team added Asante Samuel to boost the secondary. He should have a starting role but he won't be handed the job with Dunta Robinson hoping to keep his starting job. And Brent Grimes is likely to start as well but again, he won't be handed the job. He'll need to earn it. The good news is the Falcons are a lot deeper and talented at cornerback this season, which should give their secondary a big boost.

Injury watch: The Falcons really don't have any injuries of note coming into the season, which is a good thing for the team. The only player to keep an eye on, though, is running back Michael Turner. He is getting up there in age and has a lot of carries under his belt. The Falcons want to cut back his workload this season to keep him fresh and effective.

Saints

The Saints will certainly be a team to watch this training camp with so much turmoil surrounding the team. It will be interesting to see how the team responds to "bounty gate" and the Drew Brees contract situation. Needless to say, it won't be business as usual for the Saints this training camp. New Orleans starts camp on July 27 at the Saints Training Facility in Metairie, La.

Position battle: Not sure if this is a position battle but the running back spot is one to keep a close watch. There are four backs competing for carries for the Saints. And all are capable and have done well when given past chances. Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Christopher Ivory are the backs vying for touches. Maybe one of these guys will step forward and earn more work during camp.

Injury watch: Mark Ingram had offseason toe and knee surgeries. This is a concern as Ingram has a little history with knee issues. Neither surgeries were too serious but they could keep Ingram from being healthy for training camp. He could be a little slowed early in the year as he recovers from his offseason surgeries. The Saints could ease him into things early in the season.

Panthers

The Panthers didn't win a lot more games last season but got much better with Cam Newton leading the way at quarterback. He is the cornerstone of the franchise for years to come and will be looked on to elevate his play after a monster rookie season. It will be interesting to see if Newton can top last season. The pressure will be on Newton when he opens camp July 28 at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

Position battle: It seems this spot is up for grabs every year but the starter opposite Steve Smith still isn't settled. It sure looks like Brandon LaFell will be given every chance to start but he won't be handed anything. David Gettis will be his top competition for the starting spot.

Injury watch: Linebacker Jon Beason is recovering from Achilles' surgery. He is supposed to be ready for training camp and shouldn't be limited much, which is a positive for the Panthers. Beason is the starting middle linebacker and a key to the Panthers' defense, which struggled at times last season. They need a healthy Beason back in the lineup.

Bucs

Tampa looked like a team on the rise but last season was a huge bust for the Bucs. They hope to right the ship this year with a new coach in place and some new talent added on the offensive side of the ball. The Bucs have a lot to get on the same page with so much "new" in place for 2012, so training camp will be particularly important for this squad. The fun begins for the Bucs starting July 27 at One Buc Place in Tampa, Fla.

Position battle: Rookie Doug Martin is likely to start for the Bucs unless he somehow falls on his face. He is the complete package at running back, doing well as a runner and receiver. LeGarrette Blount was the starter much of the last two seasons, though, and isn't going to just hand Martin the job. He has something to prove as this might be his last chance to keep a starting job.

Injury watch: The Bucs are another pretty healthy team heading into the coming season. They really don't have any big-name player returning from major injury. But one injury-prone player to watch is Dallas Clark, who is taking over as the No. 1 tight end for the Bucs. If healthy and playing at a high level, Clark can be a big-time fantasy producer. But he hasn't looked quite right in recent seasons, making him a bit of a concern for 2012.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

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