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Tuesday, September 18, 2012
NFC West Stock Watch

By Mike Sando

FALLING

1. Injured money men. Injuries prevented some of the higher-profile players in the NFC West from helping their teams as much as anticipated. The list included Russell Okung, Zach Miller, Sidney Rice, Beanie Wells and Steven Jackson. Rice and Wells are healthy enough, their coaches have said, but both have been banged up recently. Neither played extensively Sunday. Rice played just more than half the offensive snaps against Dallas after playing 89 percent in the opener. Wells played 38 percent against New England. He has become a rotational player after topping 1,000 yards last season.

2. Rookie receivers. Second-rounder Brian Quick isn't playing much for the Rams. First-rounder Michael Floyd isn't playing much for the Cardinals. First-rounder A.J. Jenkins isn't getting onto the field for the 49ers. Those three rookie wideouts combined for nine snaps during their teams' victories in Week 2. None of this is particularly shocking. Rookie receivers often aren't ready right away. Of note: New York Jets rookie Stephen Hill has five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns thus far.

3. Braylon Edwards, Seahawks WR. Edwards' stock took a hit when he couldn't handle the potential winning touchdown pass against Arizona in Week 1. Golden Tate's return from injury dealt another blow to Edwards, who went from 65 snaps against the Cardinals to nine during a 27-7 victory over Dallas. Tate played well.

4. Cardinals RB combination. Second-year running back Ryan Williams has lost a fumble in each of the Cardinals' games this season. The one he lost while running down the clock against New England nearly gave away a hard-earned Arizona victory. Williams is averaging 1.2 yards per carry through two games. Wells is averaging 2.8. Cornerback Patrick Peterson (17 yards) and receiver Andre Roberts (15) own Arizona's longest runs from scrimmage.

RISING

1. Ray Horton, Cardinals DC. The Cardinals have held Seattle (16 points) and New England (18) to one touchdown apiece through two games. Horton, Arizona's second-year coordinator, has been getting impressive results since the second half of last season. Arizona has held nine of its last 11 opponents to 20 or fewer points. Horton interviewed for the Rams' coaching vacancy last offseason. He'll get additional opportunities and more legitimate ones if the Cardinals continue on their current course defensively. Horton is getting great play from Calais Campbell and others. That helps, too.

2. Sam Bradford, Rams QB. Bradford completed all nine of his third-down passes, seven of them for first downs, while matching a career high with three scoring tosses during the Rams' 31-28 victory over the Washington Redskins. Bradford completed 26 of 35 passes for 310 yards, his fourth career game with at least 300 yards.

3. Danny Amendola, Rams WR. Twelve first-half catches and 15 for the game more than offset the fumble Amendola lost following his first reception. Amendola finished the game with 160 yards and a touchdown. He made five catches on third down. The 15 receptions tied a franchise single-game record shared by Flipper Anderson and Isaac Bruce.

4. Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB. Wilson followed up a so-so debut at Arizona with a far more efficient performance in the absence of the constant pressure the Cardinals generated. Wilson completed 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. He set a franchise rookie record for completion percentage in a single game (min. 20 attempts). Wilson, backed by Marshawn Lynch's 122-yard rushing performance, completed 8 of 10 passes for 71 yards and five first downs on play-action attempts.