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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
NFC South Stock Watch

By Pat Yasinskas

NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Cam Newton, quarterback, Panthers. His stock remains very high, but it’s dipping a bit. Newton’s put up fantastic numbers and given the Panthers lots of hope for the future. He’s angry that the Panthers are losing, but he can help change that. Newton threw three interceptions against the Falcons and you’re not going to win many games when you turn the ball over that much. Newton needs to discover the fine line between forcing and not forcing throws. When he does that, the Panthers will start winning some games.

2. Drew Brees, quarterback, Saints. Again, the stock was sitting pretty high, but there’s been a little drop. Brees threw three interceptions in a loss to Tampa Bay and it’s time to start wondering if the career-high 22 interceptions he had last season were something more than a fluke. Brees didn’t throw an interception in the first two games of this season. But he’s been intercepted eight times in the last four games.

3. Darren Sproles, running back, Saints. He had his quietest game since joining the Saints against the Buccaneers. Sproles had just one rushing attempt. He did catch eight passes but they added up to just 46 yards.

RISING

Michael Turner
Michael Turner re-emerged in a big way against the Panthers, gaining 139 yards and scoring twice.
1. Michael Turner, running back, Falcons. As they try to find their offensive identity, the Falcons went back to basics in Sunday’s win against Carolina. They ran Turner 27 times and he produced 139 yards and two touchdowns. Not every run defense is as soft as Carolina’s, but this was a good reminder that Turner still needs to be the backbone of this offense. If he’s running well, it’s going to open the way for those downfield passes the Falcons so desperately want.

2. Josh Freeman, quarterback, Buccaneers. He seemed out of rhythm early in the season, but everything came together Sunday against New Orleans. Freeman threw for a season-high 303 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Freeman talked before the game about how he needed to tone down his confidence and not try to force passes when the play wasn’t there. He got that part right against the Saints and it resulted in the biggest win of his career.

3. Earnest Graham, running back, Buccaneers. With LeGarrette Blount out with an injury, the Bucs turned to Graham, who has done a little bit of everything throughout his career. He took over as the feature back and carried 17 times for 109 yards. He also caught three passes for 22 yards.