NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Falcons

A judge on Thursday ruled 87-year-old Saints owner Tom Benson mentally competent and fit to continue running his business empire, but that doesn’t mean he’s in the clear. Benson announced in January that he was cutting his daughter and her children out of Saints ownership and leaving the team to his wife of 10 years, which led to lawsuits in both Louisiana and Texas. Those lawsuits were filed by his daughter, Renee, and her children, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, who tried to prove that Benson was incapable of running his businesses. That failed, but his daughter and grandchildren might appeal, writes Andy Grimm of, and it could set off a years-long fight for ownership of both the Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

Here’s more on the Saints and two of their NFC South rivals:

  • Even though the Panthers signed quarterback Cam Newton to a mega-deal earlier this month, general manager Dave Gettleman told Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer that he doesn’t want the 26-year-old to change his dual-threat playing style to avoid potential injuries.  “He’s got to be Cam. You don’t hold back a thoroughbred, you don’t,” said Gettleman. Newton has established himself as an elite running QB during his four-year career, piling up over 2,500 yards and 33 touchdowns.
  • One of Newton’s go-to targets, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, struggled with weight issues at Florida State and has tacked on some pounds this offseason after a stellar rookie year, but Gettleman isn’t concerned. “It really is much ado about nothing. Right now he’s only five pounds off his playing weight. That’s it,” Gettleman told Person.“He’s a few pounds over, that’s all. He’ll be fine.”
  • Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan‘s sack total dropped precipitously last year, going from 12.5 the previous year to 7.5 for a defense that had the third-fewest sacks in the NFC. Defensive line coach Bill Johnson believes Jordan is primed for a return to his 2013 form.“There’s two or three things that we’re going to go after and he’s made improvement on those things. At this time in the year you break down each guy individually and try to give him their needs and I think he accepted them well,” Johnson said, according to Andrew Lopez of “He’s been consistent on the practice field. It’s a coaching eye. I’ve looked at him going on five years; I know what I’m seeing.”
  • Falcons coach Dan Quinn wouldn’t comment directly Thursday when asked about free agent offensive guard Evan Mathis, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter (via Twitter). The Falcons, like many other teams, are a potential fit for Mathis – a two-time Pro Bowler whom the Eagles released last week.
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