This is a weekly update 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 August 18, 2002
ATLANTA: Thanks to the team's new lower ticket structure, playing at the Georgia Dome finally may provide real homefield advantage.
The team's first home preseason game against Jacksonville drew an announced crowd of 43,264, but observers say there were closer to 50,000 in the house. The Pointer Sisters performed at the game.
The place was so raucous the Jags used a silent count in the second quarter. The noise seemed to contribute to the Jags committing a false start.
"It's a great tribute to (team owner Arthur Blank) and the marketing scheme," defensive end Patrick Kerney said.
CAROLINA: The Panthers are giddy about what they've seen of rookie running back DeShaun Foster. On his first preseason carry, he went 61 yards for a touchdown and finished with 87 yards on seven carries.
The Panthers think Foster, whose stock dropped in the draft, making him available to Carolina in the second round, could be an impact player this season, perhaps more than veteran Lamar Smith, who came over from the Dolphins.
"He's very explosive," coach John Fox said. "He's a guy that's shown a lot of quickness and speed in training camp and our team sessions.
"I think he's got a bright, bright future and we just have to bring him along."
NEW ORLEANS: With the drawn-out negotiations about starting quarterback Aaron Brooks' contract, some observers wonder if irreparable damage is being done to Brooks' relationship with management.
Brooks, who set team records last season for touchdowns (26), quarterback rushing yards (358) and total yards (4,190), is scheduled to make the league-minimum for a fourth-year player ($450,000), which is less than what 34 of his teammates make, including second- and third-string quarterbacks Jake Delhomme ($563,000) and Jeff Lewis ($550,000), respectively.
"I don't think they should have waited to renegotiate," Brooks said.
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.
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