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NFC South notebook

This is a weekly update compiled by Times NFL writer Darrell Fry on the Bucs' new opponents in the NFC South:

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 19, 2002


CAROLINA: DeShaun Foster didn't exactly impress folks in Charlotte upon his arrival. First, Foster thought newly acquired free-agent running back Lamar Smith was a former Ohio State player he played against while at UCLA. Then, he named Tim Biakabutuka as a current Panther he knows. Biakabutuka, though, was released two months earlier.

Nevertheless, Foster will get a chance to share the running duties this season -- that is, if he can shake his reputation for fumbling.

"On his best day, he's one of the top five players in this draft," Rams coach Mike Martz told CNNSI.com. "On his worst day, he fumbles a lot. On his average day, he fumbles."

ATLANTA: Running back Jamal Anderson said he's virtually certain the team will release him around June1 after drafting Michigan State running back T.J. Duckett and signing former Bucs running back Warrick Dunn.

"I'm gone," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Yeah, it's done unless there's a miracle."

While Anderson understands the decision is business, he is upset because he said team officials initially told him he could get the chance to prove he still can play after his second knee surgery in three years.

"I feel like I've been misled," Anderson said. "(Owner) Arthur (Blank) said, "We haven't misled you at all. When I bought the team, we talked about you (getting a chance). Things change as you go on.' "

Anderson said he hopes to resurface, but remains bitter about how his days in Atlanta are winding down.

"I told them you'll never replace me," he said. "You can't get somebody who'll give you everything I gave you -- the leadership, the voice, the ability to represent the team, the attitude, what I did on the field."

NEW ORLEANS: The team's firing of general manager Randy Mueller caused a stir around the city. But at least one former Saint said it was the right move.

"A good negotiator would have never let me get out of New Orleans," said Packers defensive end Joe Johnson, who said he wanted to stay and was close to re-signing with the Saints when Mueller broke off talks. "The Packers didn't let me get out of Green Bay. So if I was the priority that Mueller and everybody else said I was, then a deal should have gotten done one way or another. I just chalk it up to bad negotiating on his part."

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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