NFC South Notes: Panthers, Saints, Falcons

The 2-3 Falcons will have an opportunity to move into a tie for first place in the NFC South this weekend, as they head into Sunday’s home game against the Bears as a favorite. The 3-2 Panthers, meanwhile, will be in tough against a Bengals team that plays well at home and will be looking to bounce back from Sunday night’s blowout loss in New England. As we look forward to this weekend’s slate of games, let’s round up a few notes out of the South division….

  • Wideout and kick returner Philly Brown will continue to handle punts for the time being for the Panthers, despite some ups and downs, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. A league source tells Person that Carolina has no interest in pursuing recently-released return man Trindon Holliday, preferring instead to stick with Brown, who has occasionally had trouble hanging onto the ball but has flashed explosiveness.
  • Linebacker Paul Hazel, who played for the Browns in 2013, was in New Orleans to work out with the Saints, according to Sean Fazende of FOX 8 (via Twitter). After being cut by th Texans in August, Hazel has also auditioned for the Dolphins and Cowboys in recent weeks.
  • With the Falcons having lost three of four games since a Week 1 win over the Saints, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wonders if head coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff may be nearing the end of the line in Atlanta.
  • For his part, owner Arthur Blank gave his head coach a vote of confidence. Asked if he was left wondering about Smith as the Falcons’ head coach after last season, Blank replied, I didn’t have any wonder before the season and I still don’t have any wonder. Smitty and the team delivered over a long period of time.” Jeff Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the details.
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