Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
A look at the players opposing teams hate to see with the ball in their hands in the open field.
There is no player in the NFC South opposing defenses hate seeing in the open field more than Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams. He has a combination of speed and elusiveness that makes him especially dangerous.
Williams has become an all-around back and has shown he can run between the tackles. But he’s at his best in the open field and has a history of breaking off long runs, including a career-best 77-yard touchdown this year. Much like last year, Williams started the season rather quietly, but that was due mostly to the rest of the offense struggling in the passing game.
But Williams seems to have hit his stride in recent weeks. He’s run for 399 yards in the past three games and had 158 rushing yards in Sunday’s win against Arizona. The Panthers also are trying to make Williams more of a factor in the passing game this year.
Williams already has 18 catches, after having only 22 a year ago. The Panthers use Williams in a backfield tandem with Jonathan Stewart and that’s a nice combination. Both are complete backs, but Stewart is at his best in the power games while Williams is most dangerous when he’s out in the open.
Williams was selected as the division’s most dangerous player in the open field after consideration was given to teammate Steve Smith, Atlanta receiver Roddy White, Atlanta running back Michael Turner and New Orleans receivers Marques Colston and Devery Henderson.
Williams was the clear winner. Smith, who would have been the obvious choice in a lot of recent years, is having a relatively quiet season. Same for White and Turner. Colston is big and can break tackles, but he’s much more of a red zone threat than an open-field threat. Henderson might be the division’s best deep receiver, but isn’t especially dangerous in the open field.