Saints have plenty of YAC

November, 22, 2011
11/22/11
4:53
PM ET
Even after the bye week, the New Orleans Saints are still among the league leaders in team yards after the catch.

Of New Orleans' 3,326 passing yards, 1,510 have come after the catch. That’s No. 2 in the league. The New England Patriots lead with 1,534 yards after the catch (YAC), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Saints are averaging 5.1 yards after the catch.

For the moment, New Orleans running back Darren Sproles has lost his individual lead in yards after the catch. He currently is fourth with 466 yards, just 26 yards behind league leader Fred Jackson. New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas is tied for No. 15 with 306 yards after the catch. Tight end Jimmy Graham is No. 21 with 280 yards after the catch.

The combined threat of what Sproles, Thomas and Graham can do after the catch makes it almost silly for an opposing defense to use the Cover Two. Defenses can't afford to sit back on New Orleans' wide receivers because Sproles, Thomas and Graham can cause so many problems after catching short passes.

The only other NFC South players in the top 20 are Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart and receiver Steve Smith. Stewart is tied for seventh with 392 yards after the catch. Smith is No. 17 with 303 yards.

The Panthers have 1,231 yards after the catch. The Panthers also average a division-best 5.6 yards after the catch.

Atlanta has 1,144 yards after the catch and averages 5.2 yards. The Buccaneers have more yards after the catch (1,175), but Tampa Bay has a pretty meager after the catch average. The Bucs average 4.9 yards after the catch. Only four teams have lower averages.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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