Normally, Stock Watch contains a "falling" and a "rising" category. But, with all four NFC South teams winning in the same week for the first time all season, I couldn’t justify putting anyone into the falling category. So here’s a unique version of our weekly Stock Watch.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line. Guard Carl Nicks went down for the season with an injury and fellow guard Davin Joseph did the same a long time ago and rookie running back Doug Martin still is hanging 251 rushing yards on the Raiders? That tells me that some guys that have been career backups are stepping up and playing way over their heads and the coaching staff is doing a great job with this group. Seriously, left tackle Donald Penn is the only Tampa Bay offensive lineman that could start for most other teams.
Jonathan Babineaux, defensive tackle, Falcons. The Atlanta run defense wasn’t very good in the first six games. It’s been pretty good in the last two games. A lot of people are attributing that to the return of defensive tackle Corey Peters from injury. There’s no doubt he’s made a positive difference as the Falcons gradually increased his playing time. But, from what I’ve seen, Babineaux is the guy that really has stepped up and made a big difference.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Panthers. This guy has taken way too much blame for Carolina’s disastrous start. The Panthers won a game Sunday at Washington and Newton didn’t make any major mistakes, although he didn’t put up spectacular numbers. Maybe there’s a lesson in that. Maybe the lesson is that Newton doesn’t have to carry a team by himself. Maybe he just needs to do his job and hope his teammates can continue to do their jobs.
Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram, running backs, Saints. With Darren Sproles out with an injury, the Saints got Ivory involved for the first time all season. They rotated him with Thomas and Ingram in Monday night’s victory against Philadelphia and the combination worked out nicely. The Saints, who hadn’t had much of a running game in the first seven games, produced 140 yards on the ground.