New York, NY – New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and Detroit Lions punter Sam Martin have been named the NFC's top performers for the third week of the 2013 season.
Graham earned the offensive award Wednesday after catching nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints' 31-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The 26-year-old Graham leads all NFL tight ends with 23 receptions for 358 yards and his four receiving touchdowns are the most by any player in the NFC this season.
Hardy took home the defensive award after tying a career high with three sacks in the Panther's 38-0 victory over the New York Giants. He also had a team- high eight tackles, five of which were made behind the line of scrimmage for a total of minus-22 yards.
He is the first defensive end for the Panthers to be honored since Julius Peppers (Week 8, 2009).
Martin won the special teams award after punting six times, averaging 52.5 yards per punt with a net average of 40.7 yards in the Lions' 27-20 win at Washington. His average of 52.5 yards per punt was the highest in a game by a Lion with a minimum of six punts since Pat Studstill (53.0) on Sep. 11, 1966.
His longest punt of the day was 72 yards, which ranks second in franchise history among rookie punters. Martin's performance helped the Lions to their first win in Washington in franchise history. He is the first Lions punter to win the award since 1993 (Jim Arnold, Week 18).
Others considered for the offensive award included Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler, Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy, Dallas running back DeMarco Murray, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
Defensive consideration went to Detroit rookie defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, Minnesota linebacker Erin Henderson, Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Ware and Chicago safety Major Wright.
Arizona cornerback/kick returner Javier Arenas and Carolina kicker Graham Gano were nominated for the special teams award.