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Southern Fryed

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002

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

ATLANTA: Desperate to sell tickets, the team slashed prices, prompting a swell of season-ticket sales.

For as little as $100, fans can attend all eight regular-season home games plus two home preseason games. After the first week of price cuts, the team said it sold between 8,000 and 10,000 season tickets.

"We're handling calls as fast as we can, just about nonstop," ticket manager Jack Ragsdale said.

The $100 package is for upper-level seats. Lower-level packages range from $190 to $240. Last season, those same season tickets were $330 and $370.

CAROLINA: The Panthers hope they get an unexpected lift from safety Deke Cooper.

He had an eye-opening NFL Europe season in which he was named defensive player of the year for his league-leading five interceptions.

He has been invited to the Panthers' training camp. However, the team is solid at safety with veterans Deon Grant and Mike Minter.

Cooper might be tried at cornerback, where help is needed. He has experience at cornerback and said he will change positions if it helps him make the team.

NEW ORLEANS: After two minicamps, the Saints are gushing about first-round pick Donte Stallworth and already are comparing him with some of the league's best receivers.

Stallworth has impressed players and coaches with his speed, attitude, size and ability to go after balls.

On one play, it appeared Aaron Brooks had overthrown Stallworth.

But the rookie from Tennessee shifted to another gear and ran down the long pass.

"Speed-wise, I put him right up there with Randy (Moss)," receivers coach Hubbard Alexander said.

Strength?

"He's right there with Michael (Irvin) and Cris (Carter)," Alexander said.

"All that wrapped up into one, you've got a pretty good receiver."

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


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