Tuesday, October 20, 2009
How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch
By Mike Sando
» NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
1. Kyle Williams, LT, Seahawks. A fourth-string left tackle's stock should never be high in the first place, and Williams' struggles Sunday affirmed as much. The Seahawks knew this would be a potential problem, but they could not have expected trouble to this degree. Williams appeared to give up three sacks. Two more came through his side of the line as Williams and fourth-string left guard Steve Vallos tried to develop a rapport on the fly. It was an impossible situation against a talented Cardinals defensive front. The Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware is waiting on the other side of the Seahawks' bye week. Expect Seattle to give Damion McIntosh a try at left tackle in Week 8 if Sean Locklear and Walter Jones remain sidelined.
2. John Carlson, TE, Seahawks. Carlson's 42-yard reception on a fake punt was nice, but also a bit misleading. Carlson has only four catches over the last two games after catching 20 in the first four. Against the Cardinals, he couldn't make the grab on a play contested by Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Safety Adrian Wilson shoved Carlson aside on another play, helping Arizona bring down Deion Branch for a 4-yard gain. Later, a pass over the middle bounced off Carlson's helmet, summing up the Seahawks' frustrations. Overall offensive rhythm suffered for Seattle. It wasn't just Carlson. But the second-year tight end has seen his production fall off lately.
3. Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks. Don't blame Hasselbeck for his inclusion on this list. He kept coming back for more punishment and led the Seahawks as well as he could under the brutally difficult circumstances. But there's no doubt his stock fell after this 27-3 defeat. By game's end, Hasselbeck was rolling out and running away from trouble with less regard for identifying potentially open receivers (there were few). Hasselbeck also missed a few throws when time was on his side, including when he threw too high for T.J. Houshmandzadeh on a pass Antrel Rolle intercepted. Hasselbeck doesn't have go-to routes with any of his receivers and it shows when plays break down. That's the result of Hasselbeck, Branch and Nate Burleson missing so much time to injuries in recent seasons, then trying to learn a new offense.
1. Calais Campbell, DE, Cardinals. Working against Williams certainly helped the Cardinals' second-year defensive end. Campbell heads this list because his performance validates what we've seen from him in previous games. Campbell can be a difference-maker with his unusually tall frame (6-foot-8) and better-than-expected pass-rush ability. Arizona took a chance on Campbell when deciding not to re-sign veteran starter Antonio Smith, who accepted a big-money deal from the Texans. The Cardinals are looking smart for the decision. Campbell seems to be playing at least as well as Smith played most of last season.
2. Leonard Little, DE, Rams. What an inspired performance Little turned in Sunday. The Rams sent Little home Friday when the veteran pass-rusher reported for work feeling ill. The eventual diagnosis -- strep throat -- did not prevent Little from making the trip to Jacksonville, starting against the Jaguars and playing with exceptional effort. Little was a force periodically throughout the game. His go-ahead interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter should have given the Rams their first victory of the season. Little barely outran Jaguars quarterback David Garrard on the play, diving from several yards out and reaching the ball across the goal line. The Rams' defense was on the field for nearly 90 plays in this overtime defeat. Little persevered.
3. Ben Patrick, TE, Cardinals. His first game back from a four-game suspension showed what Patrick can mean to the Cardinals' offense. The Cardinals welcomed back Patrick by using two tight ends more than 40 percent of the time, easily a season high for Arizona. Patrick contributed as a blocker early in the game as Arizona put together a 15-play, 80-yard opening drive to a touchdown. Patrick played extensively and far more than I would have expected following an extended layoff. His preparedness showed Patrick was serious about making amends for letting down his team.