This is a weekly update by Times NFL writer Darrell Fry on the Bucs' new opponents in the NFC South Division.
By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 11, 2002
ATLANTA: Quarterback Michael Vick is all the rage in Atlanta, but the Falcons apparently do not plan to play favorites when it comes to the second-year player out of Virginia Tech.
When Vick made a noticeable mistake in practice last week, coach Dan Reeves made sure he got the same punishment other players get for making critical mistakes. Vick had to run a lap around the field.
"Dan is the law," said Vick, who took the punishment in stride. "He is the man."
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CAROLINA: The Panthers made several offseason changes, including drafting talented North Carolina defensive standout Julius Peppers in the first round.
While many don't see this team being much better than the one that lost 15 in a row last season, new coach John Fox, not surprisingly, is far more optimistic.
"(The players have) done everything we've asked. They are willing and when you've got guys with that kind of attitude, you've got a chance," Fox said. "In this league you need that because it's so competitive. I couldn't ask for anymore from the players."
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NEW ORLEANS: Second-year running back Deuce McAllister knows that all eyes will be on him this season. He knows that if he doesn't perform as Ricky Williams' replacement in the starting lineup, the second-guessing will be unending.
"I know there's pressure on me, but there's pressure on all of us," he said. "It's the business we're in. I take it all in stride.
"I'm here today, but I could be gone tomorrow. I plan to take advantage on this opportunity."
The Saints hope he does.
While Williams had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, the team needed more offensive punch, and the Saints are convinced McAllister is the answer.
Back to the Bucs
BucsChoosing time is coming
RB looks like a good catch
Look for a livelier bunch of players
Forget anticipation, let's see what the talk's about
RaysHit Show returns for one game
McRae gives Escalona rest
AP poll makes it unanimous
Seminoles hit by key injuries
Predictions of downfall motivate Florida
Local product eager to leave past behind
Here are the negotiations essentials
Which side do you believe?
The key players
Atlanta's magic number: 3.00
Security checkpoints could delay takeoffs
Sosa gets three homers, nine RBIs
A masterful performance for Martinez
Ted Williams' son ends his pro career
Bonds' milestone lingers a day later
Injured Dilfer exits Seattle's opener
Second look at Pickett seems better for Rams
Houston loss opens door for L.A. in West
Park relieved to be back in contention
No Slam, but PGA has plenty to offer
Shaq to don many hats for charity
Late rally sends N.C. to Series
Daily fishing report
Frisking fans at Bucs games an 'idiotic plan'