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Southern Fryed

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002

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

ATLANTA: Receiver Jeff Graham has issues with the law again. First, he was arrested in January for having a concealed weapon, which he argued was a result of racial profiling. Now, his name has been linked to a major drug case in Ohio.

Graham's sister, Carolyn, was arrested in connection with the drug smuggling case and Jeff's name was included on the warrant.

Jeff Graham's attorney said the 11-year veteran was not involved with the case and believes his client's name was included in retaliation for his racial profiling complaint regarding the weapons charge.

CAROLINA: It looks as if the arrival of first-round pick Julius Peppers is going to spell the end at defensive end for veteran starter Jay Williams.

Williams, who started 27 of his 32 games in Carolina, figures to be a salary-cap cut. With the addition of Peppers, Williams likely will move to a backup role and, with a $1.65-million salary-cap hit, probably will be viewed as too expensive to keep.

As of Saturday, the Panthers hadn't said whether they plan to keep Williams or release him, leaving him in limbo.

"I know Jay would like some security and have an idea of where he's going to play this season," said his agent, Ron Del Duca.

NEW ORLEANS: The Saints like what they've seen of defensive tackles Grady Jackson and Norman Hand. They would just like to see less of them. As in, less weight.

Hand played at 350 pounds last season; Jackson at 357. The Saints want both to slim down this offseason, ideally to about 315 or 325.

Both have been put on strict diets. No sweets. No fast food. Only lean meats and food rich in fiber. While neither has reached his target weight, Saints coach Jim Haslett said both looked good in offseason workouts, especially Hand.

"We want them to get down just so they can move around better and be more effective, a better ballplayer," Haslett said. "Norman looks much better than he did this time last year."

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

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