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Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Tops in the AFC West, by the numbers

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is a look at some of the best AFC West performers of the first half of the preseason, statistically speaking:

Passing: Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos

The numbers: He has completed 24 of 30 passes for 237 yards. He has one touchdown pass and no interceptions. Cutler completed his first 12 passes against Dallas.

What does it mean? Cutler, entering his second NFL season as the full-time starter, looks like he is ready to take the next step in his career and become an elite player.

Running yardage: Louis Rankin, Oakland Raiders

The numbers: The undrafted rookie has 120 yards on 14 carries.

What does it mean? The Raiders may have to find a way to keep Rankin despite their crowded backfield. He could be picked up elsewhere if Oakland tried to sneak him onto the practice squad.

Receiving yardage: Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos

The numbers: The second-round pick from Virginia Tech has four catches for 80 yards.

What does it mean? The Broncos are so impressed by the way Royal has emerged as the No. 2 receiver in Denver.

Tackles: Wesley Woodyard, Denver Broncos

The numbers: The undrafted rookie linebacker from Kentucky has 13 tackles.

What does it mean? Woodyard may make the Broncos as a special teams player.

Sacks: Turk McBride, Kansas City Chiefs

The numbers: The second-year defensive end leads the NFL with three sacks.

What does it mean? McBride perhaps can give the Chiefs some pass rush off the edge in the wake of loss of sack machine Jared Allen.

Interceptions: Antoine Cason, San Diego Chargers

The numbers: The Chargers' first-round pick is tied with others in the division with one interception. He also has 11 tackles.

What does it mean? The cornerback looks like he will make an impact as San Diego's nickel cornerback.