This season has been one of ups and downs for the rookies of the NFC South, with Cam Newton and Adrian Clayborn being the most consistent of the five 1st rounders. Newton continues his impressive run at Peyton Manning's rookie passing record, while Clayborn is getting good pressure on opposing QBs. However last week neither player was the rookie of the week in this division
NFC South Rookie of the Week: Mark Ingram
Ingram has struggled for much of the season, but his running was absolutely on point against the New York Giants. He finished the game with 80 yards rushing on 13 carries, adding a TD while also catching two passes for 14 yards. Running the ball it looked near impossible to stop Ingram as he rolled over the linebacking corps for the Giants on the way to his best game of the season.
What I've noticed about him as a running back is that when he's good he's really good, and when he's bad... well, you get the picture. He's still learning to hit his gaps and make good decisions at the second level and that will come with time. This game against New York showed his potential.
While Cam Newton completed over 75% of his passes and didn't turn the ball over, one couldn't help but feel like he should have been able to do more against the anemic Indianapolis Colts. Since the Panthers' bye week Cam has been using too much of his arm and letting some of his fundamentals slip. I suspect this is little more than the rookie wall. At this point Newton has thrown 110 more passes than he did at Auburn in 2010, and I believe he's probably suffering from a little arm fatigue.
One thing that shows no sign of slowing is his legs as he rushed for his 10th touchdown of the season. Only LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson have more TDs on the ground than Newton, and that alone says something about his ability.
Still trying to return from injury he wasn't able to register a single catch against the Vikings. Hopefully this week he'll be able to be integrated into the offense and we'll see his amazing potential again.
Quietly putting together a very successful rookie campaign, Clayborn registered his 5th sack of the season against Tennessee, this was coupled with three tackles. While it's clear he still has more to learn he does look like he has the potential to become an elite pass rusher as he's managed to get sacks against some of the NFL's better offensive lines.
He did nothing against the Giants which has been par for the course in 2011. As it stands he looks like the bust of the 1st round in the division. While Jordan makes tackles (25 thus far) he doesn't look to have any signs of dominance as a pass rusher. It could be a long while before he's able to make any meaningful impact.