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NFC South Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Saints

Falcons

Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian said that the team must improve on their execution in the red zone next season.

At the end of the day it was executing in the red area,” Sarkisian said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter if the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When you get those opportunities, seven points is a big difference than three points. It’s not really a big difference in the overall stat and where you rank, but it’s a big difference in-game and how games go. That’s a big focus for us.”

Sarkisian added that the Falcons also need to work on scoring on plays over 25-yards after being “middle of the pack” last year.

We were third in the league in explosive plays,” Sarkisian said. “But we were in the middle of the pack in the league of touchdowns of 25 yards or more. We have to find a way to turn those explosive plays into touchdown explosive plays. Those two things will be a big factor for us.”

Panthers

Panthers LT Matt Kalil explained that not having a full offseason to recover from hip surgery last year factored into his slow start to the season.

Obviously, you saw during the season the first few games I was kind of just iffy and a little behind,” Kalil said, via Panthers.com.

“I used to have to do what I could to survive. Now it’s to the point where physically nothing’s holding me back,” Kalil added. “So I have a chance to excel and work on the things I want to work on rather than doing maintenance 24/7 and just trying to survive out there.

“I would say the point where I’m starting off now to last season is not even close. You can’t compare the two. It’s the difference between actually working out and training or rehabbing. Just from a strength standpoint, I feel night and day the difference.

Saints

Saints LB A.J. Klein said that he is on track with his recovery from sports hernia surgery and hopes to be fully recovered in time for training camp.

Right now, I think for me, the most important thing is getting fully healthy and getting ready to hit the field full-go once training camp rolls around,” said Klein, via Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune.

Meanwhile, Saints DE Alex Okafor (Achilles) says his goal is to return at some point during training camp.

“The ultimate goal is to come back during training camp,” Okafor said, via the Advocate. “And nothing has taken me off that path.

“It’s a long and slow recovery,” Okafor added. “Whenever you can bump one of those weeks up, that’s when you know you’re on track, and you’re really doing well, and I’ve been able to do that.”

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