- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Carolina’s offensive line. Back at the start of the season, this was supposed to be a strength. This group still has left tackle Jordan Gross, guard Travelle Wharton and center Ryan Kalil. Right tackle Jeff Otah has been out with an injury all season. Should his absence really make that much difference? Apparently, it has. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have been very ordinary running backs because they have no holes to run through.
Steve Smith, wide receiver, Panthers. Smith criticized himself harshly after Sunday’s loss to St. Louis and said he played one of the worst games of his career. He had at least two drops. The guy still is an enormous talent, but Carolina’s quarterback problems have helped him to have a very mediocre first part of the season.
Cadillac Williams, running back, Buccaneers. Williams still has been the ceremonial starter the last few weeks. But with LeGarrette Blount putting up huge numbers, that’s not going to last much longer. Williams is a favorite of the coaching staff and fans and he should be. His comebacks from injuries have been inspirational. But he’ll be a role player going forward. Blount’s going to be the feature back.
Mike Williams, wide receiver, Buccaneers. This rookie wide receiver was a fourth-round pick, but he’s playing like a first-round choice. He’s coming off his first 100-yard game and he is Josh Freeman's go-to receiver. This combination should be together for a long time.
Marques Colston, wide receiver, Saints. Colston’s season started off slowly and fans were wondering what was wrong. But Colston has re-emerged as a big part of the offense the last couple games and nobody’s happier about that than quarterback Drew Brees.
Sedrick Ellis, defensive tackle, Saints. A first-round pick in 2008, Ellis took some criticism his first two years. He was hurt a lot. But he has stayed healthy this season and is making some big plays in the middle. Aside from Atlanta’s Jonathan Babineaux, I don’t think there’s a better defensive tackle in the NFC South.