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Smith and Sims-Walker are Surprise Leaders

It's not surprising to see Steve Smith leading the NFC in receptions and receiving yards. The shock value comes in that it's not the Carolina Panthers' veteran standout putting up those numbers but rather the New York Giants' third-year man.

Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson and New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper are among NFL performers raising eyebrows with their early-season play.

Smith, stepping in for departed veterans Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, has 41 catches for 525 yards, 49 short of his career high. Sims-Walker, in his third year from Central Florida, has 28 receptions for 398 yards and three touchdowns in four starts. He didn't start in Week 1 and was benched in Week 5 for violating team rules.

Benson, 26, has been a revelation in his second season in Cincinnati after three mediocre years with the Chicago Bears. The running back has been a big part of the 4-2 Bengals' success, ranking second in the AFC with 531 yards rushing.

"You know hard work pays off, and it's been a long road," Benson said.

Sharper, 33, a 13-year veteran, came to New Orleans this season after stints with the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. He has been a key to Gregg Williams' revamped defense with an NFL-high five interceptions, including two touchdowns.

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