How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
12:30
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

[+] EnlargeJason Campbell
AP Photo/Paul Jasienski)Jason Campbell was pulled for Bruce Gradkowski on Sunday.
1. Jason Campbell, Oakland, quarterback: Campbell’s status in Oakland took a huge hit Sunday. He was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski in the second half against St. Louis. Campbell was benched after six ineffective quarters. Gradkowksi came in and led Oakland to a comeback victory. The Raiders haven’t said who will start Sunday at Arizona, but it would be a surprise if Gradkowski didn’t get the start. Expectations were high for Campbell in Oakland. Now, his status there is cloudy at best.

2. Knowshon Moreno, Denver, running back: Moreno had 51 yards on 24 carries in Denver’s win over Seattle. The No. 12 overall pick in the 2009 draft has to get better. He is coming off an injury and Denver’s offensive line is battered. But still, Moreno, who did have a nice run on a 45-yard catch, won't be trusted as a rusher long if he duplicates this effort a few more times.

3. Ryan Mathews’ ball security: Mathews has been stripped of the ball in both of his NFL games. He said he is not worried about the issue, but he must get better at holding onto the ball. Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick in 2010, has run the ball well. But ball security is crucial. Opposing defenses will try to strip the ball until he proves he can hold onto it. And they’ll try again. So, he needs to address the issue now.

RISING

1. Bruce Gradkowski, Oakland, quarterback: Gradkowski has a growing legend in Oakland. He is an instant sparkplug for this offense. It can’t be denied. Oakland coach Tom Cable hasn’t said who’ll be his quarterback in Week 3, but it has to be Gradkowski. At this point, he gives the Raiders the best chance to win.

2. Todd Haley, Kansas City, head coach: The second-year man is going to get himself some coach of the year votes at this rate. Even though the Chiefs are still a work in progress, Haley has his team playing very hard and they clearly believe in his system. Haley had a gutsy call on fourth-and-inches that sealed the win at Cleveland on Sunday. The Chiefs, who won a total of 10 games the past three seasons, are 2-0 for the first time since 2005.

3. Demaryius Thomas, Denver, receiver: Denver’s top draft pick made an instant impact in his NFL debut. Thomas had eight catches for 97 yards and a touchdown in Denver’s win over Seattle. Thomas showed flashes of dominance in training camp, but he was dealing with a foot injury. In his first NFL game, the No. 22 overall pick showed his great potential.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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