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 July 7, 2002
ATLANTA: One of the keys to the season will be new right tackle Todd Weiner. After all, it's his job to protect quarterback Michael Vick's blind side.
That has put a lot of pressure on Weiner. So has the five-year, $17.5-million contract he signed, a deal some think was far too generous for a player who has been a starter for only one season.
But Weiner has looked solid, impressing coaches during recent minicamps.
"Obviously we have high expectations for our quarterback," offensive line coach Pete Mangurian said. "(Weiner) has got to be one of the guys that allows (Vick) to do the things that he's capable of doing."
CAROLINA: Cornerback is arguably the team's weakest link. The starting jobs are wide open, but there are few distinguished names in the hunt.
An apparent front-runner for a starting spot is veteran Terry Cousin, who played with the Dolphins last season, starting three games. He has looked good in workouts. Vying for the other spot are DeRon Jenkins, Reggie Howard and Fred Vinson, among others.
The feeling is that this team is going to miss free-agent cornerback Doug Evans (eight interceptions in 2001).
NEW ORLEANS: The team is going through a tough adjustment period on and off the field.
It dumped its general manager, Randy Mueller, and replaced him with Mickey Loomis, one of Mueller's longtime friends. Now everyone in New Orleans wants to know if Loomis can revitalize a roster crippled by free agency -- losses include running back Ricky Williams and Pro Bowl tackle Willie Roaf -- and build the Saints into a playoff team.
One of Loomis' biggest moves will be to re-sign quarterback Aaron Brooks.
"I've never been the best athlete or the smartest guy or the most charming," Loomis said. "But I know that if I keep grinding, good things can happen."
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.
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