NFC South Notes: Falcons, Newton, Bucs

Falcons coach Mike Smith is sad to have lost Sean Weatherspoon for the year, but he believes that the club’s additions through free agency and the draft have left them better equipped to deal with filling the void, writes Charles Odum of the Associated Press. Notre Dame’s Prince Shembo, a fourth-round pick, and Syracuse’s Marquis Spruill, a fifth-rounder, will both have increased opportunities in the wake of Weatherspoon’s Achilles tear. Smith also said additions to the defensive line also should give the linebackers better protection to make plays. They signed defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai in free agency and drafted defensive end Ra’Shede Hageman in the second round. Here’s more out of the NFC South..

  • A report last night indicated that Cam Newton‘s camp is afraid that Colin Kaepernick‘s new deal with the 49ers will set a tone for forthcoming contract negotiations with the Panthers QB. If that’s the case, Newton isn’t copping to it. “I’m not terrified of anything,” Newton said, according to David Newton of “For me, that’s the last thing on my mind. The first thing is trying to get little anky right. I’m not worried about no money. I’m not worried about things I can’t control.”
  • Ultimately, Newton’s best tactic for avoiding a similar structure to Kaepernick could be declining to talk about a contract until after the 2014 season or later with the Panthers, opines Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk. Newton isn’t hurting for money right now, but he can bet on himself over the next two years, forcing Carolina into a difficult spot come 2016, when they’ll have to decide whether to use the non-exclusive franchise tag and risk losing him to another team.
  • The Buccaneers new and improved depth at cornerback this offseason is already evident, writes Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. “Every day it seems we talk about one of the corners,” coach Lovie Smith said. “You see the way we practice. Guys are stripping the ball right up until the end. It’s about taking the ball away. To a man, they’ll talk to you about that. As the head football coach of our defense, that’s a great job to finish a game off like that.”
  • Saints camp invite Charles Hawkins, a wide receiver with speed, is willing to do whatever it takes to make the roster, writes Andrew Lopez of The Times-Picayune.
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