NFC South Rookie Report: Injuries, Mediocrity And High Expectations

Following the 2011 draft it was hard to find a division that had a better first round than the NFC South. While there was definitely a 'sell the future for now' mentality behind some of the trades, overall the thought was that the division would immediately get better. The Carolina Panthers got the draft's best QB, the Atlanta Falcons got the second best WR, the New Orleans Saints landed the best RB while the Bucs added defensive depth.

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Week 11 wasn't kind to this vaunted class. Between injury and mediocrity the high expectations this group had definitely caught up with them. Lets look at the class now, shall we? 

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Cam Newton

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Against Detroit it was clear Cam Newton was off his game from the first snap. He was sailing his passes, missing open receivers and look uncomfortable facing the stout Lions pass rush. He finished throwing four interceptions in a wholly unmemorable game. 

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Thankfully for Newton this week the Panthers head to Indianapolis to play the Colts. If there was ever a time for his to light up the scoreboard it would be now. I think he'll rebound in a major way this week.

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Julio Jones

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Injuries have been plaguing the standout WR this season as he missed his third game of 2011. He has truly been a dominant WR when able to take the field, that just hasn't happened as much as hoped this year.

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It's good to report that Jones is probable for tomorrow's game against Minnesota. If he is able to play then I have no doubt he'll make a big impact on the game as the Vikings don't have a reliable answer for a receiver with his skill set.

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Adrian Clayborn

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Easily the best of the first round DEs Clayborn returned to form with a 2 tackle, 1 sack game against the Green Bay Packers. Now with 4 on the season it's clear that he has a future in the NFL as a pass rusher. Clayborn has an excellent first step and a knack for making the right decisions on stunts. 

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This week he faces Tennessee who has done a great job keeping Matt Hasselbeck clean in 2011, so it's another tough task for the rookie.

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Cameron Jordan

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Bye week for the Saints, perhaps they were able to get the wholly unimpressive Jordan started again. This week the Saints face the New York Giants on Monday night, another game that doesn't bode well for the rookie pass rusher.

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Mark Ingram

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Entering this week he's been averaging a paltry 3.7 YPC in 2011, and surprisingly having almost no impact on football games. In terms of impact for the team Darren Sproles has done far more from the RB position that Mark Ingram has in 2011. 

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This week against New York he'll be facing a stout defensive front, which won't help him too much unfortunately.

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