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Early Bird Report: Deion Jones named a ‘rising star’ within the NFC South

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes Deion Jones’ reputation as a rising star in the NFC South as well as the David Tepper’s purchase of the Panthers becoming official.

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ESPN: NFC South Q&A: Who is a rising star in the division

The NFC South has long been one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, and with a number of young players emerging as impact players early in their careers, that streak is likely to continue.

In a roundtable discussion, ESPN’s NFC South beat writers debated who they believe is a rising star within the division. While three of the beat writers named either Saints running back Alvin Kamara or Saints receiver Michael Thomas, Falcons beat reporter Vaughn McClure named Deion Jones as his rising star.

“There is a reason Falcons linebacker Deion Jones made the Pro Bowl last year in just his second season,” McClure writes. “His blazing speed was evident from Day 1, and that has made him one of the top coverage linebackers around. He's found his voice running the defense and is in total command. Plus Jones' athleticism is off the charts, as Saints quarterback Drew Brees found out when Jones picked him off with a leaping interception to win last year's showdown in Atlanta. Jones, who is pushed hard by linebackers coach and former 10-year NFL vet Jeff Ulbrich, will only get better with more seasoning. He has 244 combined tackles, six interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns in 31 games.”

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NFL.com: Panthers finalize sale to David Tepper

The sale of the Carolina Panthers franchise to David Tepper was made final on Monday, according to NFL.com’s Marc Sessler.

"I am thrilled to begin this new era of Carolina Panthers football and am humbled by the overwhelming excitement and support for the team," Tepper said in a statement that was released by the club. "On behalf of the fans and myself, I thank Jerry Richardson for bringing the team to the Carolinas and for entrusting me with its future."

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