NFL Nation: Stock Watch 50610 AFC

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Falling

Pittsburgh Steelers' WR depth: Just weeks after trading former starter Santonio Holmes, the Steelers suffered another blow to their depth at receiver when Limas Sweed tore his Achilles last weekend at veteran minicamp. Sweed, a backup who was due to compete for the third or fourth spot at receiver, had surgery as soon as possible. The team hasn't said for sure whether the former second-round pick will miss the entire 2010 season. But at the very least, Sweed will be absent for a significant portion of the year at a time when it seems the Steelers cannot catch a break. Without Holmes and Sweed, Pittsburgh cannot afford to suffer any additional injuries at wide receiver.

Rising

Adam "Pacman" Jones: Out of work in 2009, Jones has suddenly gained a buzz this offseason to where it appears the controversial free-agent cornerback is very close to making his return to the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals are the favorites to sign Jones. Reportedly they are in contract negotiations with his representation this week. Cincinnati was the first team to invite Jones to a tryout in February and worked him out again Tuesday. The Bengals are searching for cornerback depth and, because of his off-field track record, Jones would be a cheap option. The Detroit Lions are also interested.
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Falling

Alvin Pearman, RB, Titans and Mark Jones, WR, Titans: Pearman didn’t have much standing heading into the offseason. The backup running back, who ended the season as the Titans' kick and punt returner, lost major standing with the draft and undrafted rookie signings.

Third-round pick Damian Williams is expected to be the leader in the return games, which need a reliable player with some big-play potential after a miserable year where successful fair catches were often an accomplishment.

And while LenDale White was dealt away, Pearman ranks fifth at the position behind Chris Johnson, Javon Ringer, LeGarrette Blount and Stafon Johnson.

Jones ranks even further down the receivers list. He can make the team only if he absolutely lights it up as a returner while others underachieve. It’s a scenario I don’t see panning out.

Rising

Antoine Bethea, S, Colts: It’s not a big deal yet or a big surprise. But Bill Polian told the Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell that the Colts have talked to Bethea, a restricted free agent, about a long-term deal.

The steady, poised Bethea probably doesn’t get enough credit for being the settling force in the secondary, but he’s a key cog in the Colts' defense. That they’re acknowledging interest in locking him up long term seems like a good sign to me, as I think he’s a guy they’ve got to hold onto.

He had a team-high four picks and beat out middle linebacker Gary Brackett for the team’s tackle lead with 120.

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
1:00
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

Joe McKnight, Jets running back: The fourth-round draft pick out of USC had a rough start at rookie minicamp. McKnight wasn't sure if it was his nerves, the heat or the aggressive pace compared to what he went through with the Trojans, but he struggled to hold onto the ball and his stomach contents. He repeatedly dropped passes in drills, needed extra medical attention, suffered from cramps and generally looked exhausted.

Rising

Logan Mankins, Patriots guard: Mankins had to like what he learned Wednesday, when New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans signed a seven-year contract worth $56.7 million. That sets the bar for the game's elite guards and Mankins qualifies. He's an unsigned restricted free agent. He would've been an unrestricted free agent this year if not for special rules for the uncapped season. Mankins was New England's first-round pick in 2005 and has been to a pair of Pro Bowls. Evans, a fourth-round draft choice, is entering his fifth season. He's coming of his first Pro Bowl campaign and was first-team All-Pro, too.
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

Darrius Heyward-Bey, receiver, Oakland: Prior to the draft, Oakland coach Tom Cable -- who is known for his unbridled enthusiasm -- told reporters that they’d be amazed to see the progress made by Heyward-Bey, the surprise No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft. He said Heyward-Bey had made great strides from a disappointing rookie season. However, Heyward-Bey didn’t appear to make huge strides in Oakland’s minicamp. He was improved, but he still had several drops. His hands are his biggest issue and it seems he has not fixed that problem. It’s obviously early and Heyward-Bey has plenty of time to make strides in 2010. But it doesn’t seem like he's quite ready to take the next step.

Rising

Tony Moeaki, tight end, Kansas City: The rookie tight end stood out at the team’s rookie minicamp over the weekend. The third-round pick from Iowa has strong pass-catching ability. He reportedly stretched the field well during the camp. That is an aspect of the offense that was missing last season. Kansas City coach Todd Haley has a history of not using the tight end much. However, the fact that Moeaki was taken fairly high in the draft may mean the Chiefs are open to using the tight end more in the passing game. Again it’s early, but it appears Moeaki has a chance to add a dimension to Kansas City’s offense.

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