Panthers vs. Dolphins: Grades from the game

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Unexpected players stepped up in a gritty win and today we look at their grades from Pro Football Focus.

Successful teams don't always lean on top flight performances from their stars, often it's more important to get unexpected production from a team's depth -- particularly when battling through injury. This is precisely what happened on Sunday, when some of the Panthers' lesser-known players became stars.

Three Up

Mario Addison (+6.3)

Frank Alexander might never live up to the price Carolina paid for him, but Mario Addision has quietly been an unbelievable addition to the team. Against the Dolphins he was tasked with filling in for Charles Johnson, and became the best player on the entire team.

Addison generated a total of 10 pressures, including a sack and three quarterback hits. His +6.1 pass rush rating is one of the best single-category ratings the team has had all year, and his addition was invaluable on a day Greg Hardy wasn't hugely effective.

Kawann Short (+3.5)

I whiffed on evaluating Kawann Short. I absolutely, hopelessly, completely whiffed. Pre-draft I saw a player who I thought could be a solid defensive tackle, but nothing special. It became more intriguing when Short discussed playing out of position at Purdue and this season he has been unbelievable.

Short registered three pressures on Sunday, bringing his season total to 21. He rankes 12th among 4-3 defensive tackles according to Pro Football Focus, and has been unbelievable this year. What a great draft pick.

Ryan Kalil (+3.3)

Centers are vastly undervalued, and it's nice to be one of the few teams with an elite one. If you look at Atlanta's struggles this season a lot stems from poor play at the position. Ryan Kalil had a +2.4 run block rating against Miami and was exceptional in all phases.

Three Down

Nate Chandler (-5.3)

Nate Chandler is being asked to make the toughest switch in football, and it shows. This position change has been ugly to say the least. Against Miami he allowed five pressures, and finished with a scary -4.7 pass block rating.

The end result is a team that's winning, but desperately need upgrades in the 2014 draft.

Cam Newton (-4.9)

The first half was enough to sink Newton's overall rating, but he won -- so who cares?

Ted Ginn (-1.4)

Against the Dolphins we saw the "bad" Ted Ginn, the player other fans make fun of when the Panthers talk of optimism. It's just lucky the dropped deep pass wasn't enough to turn the tide of the game.

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