By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 21, 2002
This is a weekly update compiled by Times NFL writer Darrell Fry on the Bucs' new opponents in the NFC South:
ATLANTA: Home games at the Georgia Dome might not be the sterile experience they have been in past seasons.
The team's $100 season-ticket promotion has been a success. Owner Arthur Blank said the promotion has generated 18,000 new season-ticket holders, giving the team 42,000 season tickets.
The team hopes to sell out every home game, preventing the NFL blackouts that were common in recent seasons.
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"I think when you talk about $100 season tickets, you think there's going to be a response. But I don't know that anybody foresaw there'd be an 86 percent increase in season-ticket sales. That's unheard of," coach Dan Reeves said. "I don't care if they are in the upper deck with 21,000 screaming for us, we'll take it because that's a lot more than what we had screaming (last season)."
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CAROLINA: As bad as the Panthers were last season, any positive news is welcome. Last week the team hung on the glowing assessment of NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, who raved about new coach John Fox.
"I think John Fox is going to be a success," Mortensen said. "I am a big fan of John's and always have been. He's extremely well-prepared. He connects with his players and yet he can discipline them. He has energy like you wouldn't believe."
As for a prediction, Mortensen said the Panthers will go 6-10.
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NEW ORLEANS: The team is hoping to have all of its draft picks signed before training camp begins Saturday. General manager Mickey Loomis doesn't expect problems with the lower picks, but deals for first-round picks Donte Stallworth and Charles Grant likely won't get done until the final hour.
"Our goal, as always, is to get everyone signed by the time camp opens," Loomis said. "There's no award for getting deals done early."
That will add to what is expected to be a busy week. The team also is in the market for a free-agent running back to add depth and talks have begun for a contract extension for coach Jim Haslett.
Still, Loomis said he has everything under control.
"I'm not alarmed," Loomis said. "I don't anticipate any problems."
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.
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