NFC South TEs are popular targets

We talked a lot in the preseason about how tight end had become such a prominent position in the NFC South. We’re a little past the halfway point and the numbers are backing up that theory. And we thank ESPN's Stats & Information for passing along the following information.

First off, Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez and Tampa Bay’s Kellen Winslow rank fourth and fifth in the league in targets among tight ends. Here’s a look at the league leaders:

For the record, New Orleans’ Jeremy Shockey isn’t far off. He ranks No. 13 in targets with 50 and has 37 catches for 444 yards. Carolina is the one NFC South team that doesn’t have a strong pass-catching presence at tight end. Dante Rosario leads Carolina’s tight ends with 21 targets.

In another category, Winslow is fast becoming a clutch player. He wasn’t even on the list for fourth quarter and overtime targets last week, but rookie quarterback Josh Freeman suddenly is looking to Winslow as a go-to guy.