Tuesday, September 20, 2011
NFC South Stock Watch
By Pat Yasinskas
1. Matt Bosher, punter/kickoff specialist, Falcons. The rookie has struggled mightily. But at least for the moment, it appears as if the Falcons will stick with him. They invested a draft pick in Bosher, so they may be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But this team can’t afford too many more 18-yard punts like the one Bosher had Sunday night. If things don’t straighten out quickly, he could be gone.
2. Thomas Davis, linebacker, Panthers. This one’s tragic. Davis tore his ACL for the third time in less than two years. He’s a great player and an outstanding locker room guy. But Davis’ contract is structured so that the Panthers have the right to exercise an option for the remainder of the deal on the first two days of the 2012 league year. There’s an $8 million bonus tied to that option. I can’t see any way the Panthers pick up that option now.
3. Thomas DeCoud, safety, Falcons. Atlanta started veteran James Sanders in DeCoud’s place Sunday night. That came after DeCoud had struggled throughout the preseason and in the season opener. He still got some playing time against the Eagles, but didn’t do anything outstanding. Sometimes benching a young player can serve as a wakeup call. But if Sanders is a steady influence in the secondary, DeCoud might just fade away.
Jimmy Graham provides a big target for quarterback Drew Brees.
1. Peria Jerry, defensive tackle, Falcons. During the preseason, the Falcons talked a lot about how they had seen bursts of explosiveness from their first-round pick in 2009. Jerry’s career had been stalled by a knee injury in his rookie season. But we all got to see one of those bursts Sunday night. He blew past a blocker and hit Michael Vick before he could hand off. Jerry’s hit forced a fumble that defensive end Ray Edwards picked up and returned a long way to help set up an Atlanta touchdown.
2. Jimmy Graham, tight end, Saints. He had six catches for 79 yards against the Bears. With top receiver Marques Colston out with an injury, Graham is giving the Saints a presence in the middle of the field. He also is showing incredible raw athletic ability and should only get better as his first season as a starter goes on.
3. LeGarrette Blount, running back, Buccaneers. After barely using Blount in the opener, the Bucs kept him involved against the Vikings. He carried 13 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Just imagine what this guy could do with 20 or 25 carries.