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NFC South Rookie Reports: Julio Jones Shines In Back-To-Back Games

There's no denying that the Atlanta Falcons payed a steep price to move up in the 2011 draft and select Alabama WR Julio Jones. At times this year it has seemed like maybe it was a mistake, as Jones missed numerous games due to injury. However, since last week he's played in two games and shined on both occasions.

NFC South Rookie of the Week- Julio Jones

In his first game of the last 10 days Jones came up big against the Carolina Panthers. It wasn't just his 104 yards receiving, but the timeliness of this receptions that really turned the tide of the game in the second half. As a receiver he showed why some believed he would be better than AJ Green, who was taken just before him- Jones has an astounding blend of size, speed and athleticism that is rare at the position. Last week he dominated Panthers' CB Captain Munnerlyn.

He then followed up this game on Thursday when he played the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night. Here again he was instrumental in the Falcons' victory in different ways. In Carolina he was the big play receiver, against Jacksonville he did everything finishing with 5 receptions for 84 yards and a TD. One thing's certain- he'll be giving CBs headaches for years to come.

Cam Newton

There have been times this season where the rookie signal caller has looked unflappable, last week against Atlanta wasn't one of them. During the first half of the game he looked in command, in control and led a dominating offense. However, in the second half you could see doubt creep into his mind as the Falcons were able to bring more pressure and get him out of rhythm. The end result was one of Cam's worst games of the season.

He finished completing just 48.7% of his passes and threw two costly interceptions that helped seal an Atlanta victory. Long term Panthers' fans have nothing to fear, he truly looks like the making of a franchise QB, but last week he looked like a rookie.


Adrian Clayborne

One simple word: Dominance. Last week when the Bucs played the Jaguars it was an astoundingly ugly affair from a team perspective, but not for the rookie pass rusher. This season he's been up and down at times, but overall he's looked extremely impressive rushing the passer. Last week against Blaine Gabbert was no exception.

Clayborne finished Sunday's game with a full stat sheet: 4 tackles, 1 sacks, 1 FF and 1 safety couple that with a stuffed run and you have a great game for the rookie.


Mark Ingram

Like the aforementioned Clayborne he's been up and down at times, last week was the latter. While Sean Payton might be beating the drum trying to convince people that Ingram is the rookie of the year anyone with eyes and a basic understanding of football sees otherwise. On the season he hasn't managed to total more than 4 yards per carry and has only succeeded against the most mediocre of run defenses.

Against the Detroit Lions he ran the ball 16 times for just 54 yards- a paltry 3.4 YPC. This simply wont cut it in the NFL long term. I understand it takes some time for RBs, but I'm just not seeing it from him. For a player lauded to be the next Jerome Bettis he looks like a bus stuck in the shop.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.