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Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Checking Rookie, MVP Watches

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Each week, colleague Matt Williamson does a Rookie Watch and Mike Sando does an MVP Watch. I comment on them from time to time when the NFC South is heavily involved and I'm going to do it with both of the watches this week.

Let’s start with Williamson’s Rookie Watch. His topper on it is about Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount and I think Williamson points out some very good things (positive and negative) about one of the NFL’s most surprising success stories this season.

Williamson is a guy who has worked in NFL front offices and knows a lot about technical details. He points out the Blount is a big, powerful runner. I think that’s something we all can see. But the part I think goes beyond the obvious is that there is room for improvement with Blount.

Williamson said he can better utilize his power and also become a more useful part of Tampa Bay’s passing games. Excellent points and I wouldn’t view them as being too harsh on Blount. He’s a guy that came into the league undrafted and quickly got thrown into a starting job. Blount’s flaws are things that can be improved upon with some coaching and some work in the offseason.

Williamson also sings the praises of Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams, which is nothing new. Williams is one rookie who has been a big factor from the first day of the season.

Now, let’s hop over to Sando’s MVP Watch. He has Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan at No. 4 and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees at No. 6. Each of those guys dropped one spot from last week and I have no problem with that.

Matter of fact, let me give you some behind-the scenes information how seriously Sando takes his MVP Watch. He formulates his own ideas after reviewing each week’s games. But, then, he also takes the time and effort to check with each of the division bloggers to make sure he’s not dramatically off in his assessment.

When Sando and I talked about Ryan, we were totally on the same page. He did not have a great statistical game against Tampa Bay on Sunday, but I said any drop should be only minimal because Ryan led a game-winning drive when he had to. We had pretty much the same conversation about Brees.

Earlier in the year, I was in Sando’s ear about Atlanta receiver Roddy White. But White’s slowed down his pace in recent weeks, so I let that one slide this week and he didn’t make the top 10. But, Atlanta fans, don’t get down on Sando. He told me he was real close to including running back Michael Turner for one of the last few spots. It didn’t happen, but another strong game or two by Turner could get him on the list.