Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch

By Pat Yasinskas

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

FALLING

Dwayne Jarrett
Dwayne Jarrett has been invisible in Carolina's offense.
1. Dwayne Jarrett, wide receiver, Panthers. It would be easy to call this guy a bust. But let’s not sell Jarrett short. He is a tremendous bust. A second-round pick in 2007, Jarrett has done virtually nothing, despite being given every opportunity by the Panthers. Most other teams would have cut him long ago. For some inexplicable reason, the Panthers have clung to Jarrett and there’s been no reward for that. Because of some injuries, the Panthers had only three receivers active Sunday. They started Steve Smith and rookie David Gettis, a sixth-round draft pick. Jarrett was the third receiver, but the Panthers didn’t even bother to target him.

2. Jerious Norwood, running back, Falcons. Norwood tore his ACL on Sunday and will miss the remainder of the season. This probably marks the end of Norwood’s time with the Falcons because he’s a free agent after this season. It’s a shame because this guy flashed big-play ability at various times throughout his career. There was always the sense and hope he could do it more consistently. But he’s had constant injury problems and never has been the factor the Falcons hoped for.

3. Carolina’s pass rush. Actually, the Panthers don’t have one. Despite a whole bunch of young defensive ends showing promise in the preseason, the Panthers don’t have a sack from their defensive line yet. Their only sack came in the opener and that came from middle linebacker Dan Connor. But, hey, the Panthers are better off without Julius Peppers, right?

RISING

1. Pierre Thomas, running back, Saints. Thomas already was an important part of the offense, but his role is only going to increase with Reggie Bush out for about six weeks. Thomas doesn’t have the skill set to do all the different things Bush does, but not many people in the league do. The Saints are going to have to make up for Bush’s touches in various ways and some of that will fall to Thomas. He’s not going to do what Bush did in the passing game. But Thomas, who already was New Orleans' main runner, probably will start getting more carries.

2. Josh Freeman, quarterback, Buccaneers. If you haven’t seen this guy play recently, you owe it to yourself to watch him. He’s turning into a big-time player with his arms, legs and his head. And people tend to forget that Freeman’s doing this while still dealing with a fractured thumb that’s not completely healed. Once he gets through Sunday’s game with Pittsburgh, Freeman will have a bye week to rest up and get the thumb completely healthy.

3. Atlanta’s running game. After a horrible outing in the opener against Pittsburgh, the Falcons bounced back spectacularly against Arizona. Michael Turner looked like the Michael Turner of old before having to leave with a groin injury. With Norwood also out, Jason Snelling took over and rushed for 129 yards. Turner could have returned to the game, but the Falcons already had a comfortable lead, so they rested him. If Turner can run like he did against the Cardinals, the Falcons are going to have a very real chance Sunday when they play New Orleans.