Raiders (1-1) at Bills (2-0)
Darren McFadden: The rookie has electrified crowds with a four
20-plus-yard runs — tops in the league — while averaging 105 yards per game.
But, as rookies often do, he's made some mistakes, including a pair of fumbles.
McFadden's 210 rushing yards is fifth-best in the league.
JaMarcus Russell: The Raiders need their QB to step it up if
they're going to be better than a .500 team in 2008. Currently ranked 25th in
the league in completion percentage (53.5 percent), his completion percentage
drops to 44.4 percent in the red zone. One positive for the second-year player
is that he hasn't thrown an interception, but he has fumbled twice, losing
Sebastian Janikowski: His booming foot on nine kickoffs has
produced six touchbacks. He's currently second in the league with a 71.8-yard
Thomas Howard: The versatile linebacker has a huge presence on the
Raiders' defense with 11 stops, one sack, a forced fumble, and two passes
defended this season.
Trent Edwards: The second-year signal-caller hasn't been intercepted
yet this season. And his 70.9 percent completion average is the fourth-best in
the NFL. Edwards' performance actually gets better as the game progresses,
completing 65 percent of his first ten passes, but 80 percent once he's thrown
at least 20 passes.
Lee Evans: All eight of his catches this season have produced a
first down, but he hasn't caught a pass inside the opponents' 20-yard line yet
Brian Moorman: Five of his twelve punts have resulted in a fair catch,
the second-highest total in the league. His 40.4 net yards per punt puts him in
a tie for the eighth-best average in the league.
Terrence McGee: He's making good things happen for the Buffalo
defense. McGee has already logged 13 tackles (11 solo), six passes defended and
a pair of interceptions.
Panthers (2-0) at Vikings (0-2)
Jon Beason: Carolina's middle linebacker has made a team-best 18
stops and recovered a fumble during the first two games.
Chris Harris: The hard-hitting safety has forced a pair of
fumbles and is tied for second-place on the team with 14 tackles.
RB Jonathan Stewart
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Jonathan Stewart: The rookie running back is averaging 5.4 yards
per carry and both of the Panthers' rushing touchdowns. While he's getting
almost the same number of reps as DeAngelo Williams, that could change in the
near future if Williams continues to perform at his current rushing average of
4.0 yards per attempt.
Chris Gamble: The fifth-year cornerback out of Ohio State has
defended four passes already this season. In 12 starts last season, he only
Adrian Peterson: If you watched Peterson against the Colts last
Sunday, it was obvious that he was wearing down late in the game. Head coach
Brad Childress has benched the ineffective Tarvaris Jackson in favor of veteran
Gus Frerotte, so Peterson may not have to carry quite so heavy of a load on
Sunday. He's already carried the ball 48 times for an NFL-best 263 yards,
averaging 5.5 yards per carry. And although he has just one rushing touchdown so
far, 20.8 percent of his runs have moved the chains for Minnesota.
Chad Greenway: In his second season as a starter, the former Iowa
Hawkeye leads the Vikings with 14 tackles, including ten in the opponent's half
of the field.
Ryan Longwell: The Vikings kicker has hit on seven of his eight
field goal attempts this year, including a 53-yard shot.
Antoine Winfield: The cornerback has made three of the Viking's
12 special teams tackles.
Dolphins (0-2) at Patriots (2-0)
Ricky Williams: Can Williams get rolling against the New England
defense in this divisional battle? It's not likely, but it sure would be great
timing for Miami if he did. Averaging just 2.48 yards per carry, he probably
wouldn't be getting many carries if teammate Ronnie Brown was doing
significantly better than his meager 2.82 yards per carry. Williams' longest run
is just eight yards, while Brown hasn't gotten further than 11 yards from the
line of scrimmage.
LB Channing Crowder
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Channing Crowder: Now in his fourth season out of Florida, Crowder has
taken charge in the middle of the linebacker corps, posting a team-best 18
Davone Bess: The rookie wide receiver has averaged 25.5 yards on
four kickoff returns. He also caught a pair of passes against the Cardinals last
week and picked up 13 yards on a running play.
Ted Ginn: The former first-round pick hasn't been very
productive so far this season, averaging just 4.3 yards per punt return and
catching just three balls for a total of 26 yards.
Rodney Harrison: Is there a player in this league who loves to
hit people more than Rodney Harrison? With 22 stops in his first two games of
2008, the 15th-year veteran looks as tough as ever.
Randy Moss: The veteran appears to be a bit lost since Tom Brady
was lost for the season. He caught just two passes last week against the Jets
for a meager 22 yards, including one for a touchdown.
Wes Welker: He continues to use his shifty route-running and
quickness to find open spots in the opponents' defense. Welker has a team-high
13 catches and is averaging 9.5 yards per grab.
Stephen Gostkowski: He's accounted for half of the Patriots' 36
points this season with five field goals and three extra point. New England has
only scored three touchdowns this year, twice on runs by Sammy Morris, and once
on a throw from Matt Cassel to Randy Moss.
Cardinals (2-0) at Redskins (1-1)
Kurt Warner: The Arizona quarterback is off to a fast start, leading
the league in average gain per pass attempt (10.33 yards). Warner has thrown
four touchdown passes in his first two outings, has avoided throwing an
interception and has the second-best passer rating in the NFL (128.5) behind
Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. Relying heavily on his two highly-talented wide
receivers, Warner has connected with Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald for 23
of his 39 completions (59 percent).
WR Anquan Boldin
Kevin Terrell/Getty Images
Anquan Boldin: With 222 yards of receiving, Boldin is currently third
in the league, and he's tied for the lead in touchdown catches with three in his
first two games.
Larry Fitzgerald: The "other guy" in the Cardinals'
receiving attack is averaging 20.4 yards per catch on nine carries, so defenses
have to give him his due respect as a deep threat.
Steve Breaston: After averaging 22.4 yards per kickoff return in
his rookie season, Breaston has slumped a bit, averaging just 16.5 yards on four
Santana Moss: His 12 catches for 201 yards includes two touchdown
catches. He's made eight of those catches in the second half, averaging 19 yards
per reception versus just 12.2 per catch in the first half.
Durant Brooks: The rookie punter out of Georgia Tech hasn't gotten off
to a good start. His 28.3-yards net average is the second-worst in the NFL, and worst
among punters with nine punts or more this season.
London Fletcher: The 11th-year pro is showing few signs of aging. He's
currently ranked second in the league in tackles with 24, including 13 stops in
the second half.
Texans (0-1) at Titans (2-0)
Matt Schaub: Although he's completed 75.6 percent of his passes --
second-best in the NFL — Schaub has a total of just one touchdown pass to date.
He's completed all eight of his pass attempts once the Texans are in their
opponents' territory. He just needs to spend more time on that half of the field
and less time on his back. He's been sacked five times already.
Zach Diles: The second-year linebacker has made a team-leading
13 tackles this year (11 solo).
WR Andre Johnson
Brian Bahr /Getty Images
Andre Johnson: He leads the team with ten catches for 112 yards,
but his longest catch over the past two games has only resulted in a 24-yard
gain. Schaub needs his deep threat to loosen up the opponents' defense a bit.
Mario Williams: The Texans have just two sacks so far, and both
of them were logged by the third-year pro. Williams has also made six tackles
from his defensive end position.
Cortland Finnegan: The Titans cornerback has been a force to be
reckoned with, intercepting a league-best three passes in two weeks. He's made
two of those three picks in the fourth quarter. And his seven passes defended is
second-best in the league.
Chris Johnson: Although he has just one more carry than LenDale
White, the rookie out of East Carolina has rushed for 202 yards (5.9 yards per
carry) versus just 99 (3.0 yard per carry) by White. Johnson has also caught
five passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Nick Harper: The veteran cornerback leads the Titans 13 tackles. He's
also forced a fumble and defended two passes.
Albert Haynesworth: Tennessee's top defensive tackle has been
getting good pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He's been credited with four
quarterback hits and two sacks. He's forced a fumble and made four tackles.
Buccaneers (1-1) at Bears (1-1)
Earnest Graham: Averaging 8.3 yards per carry, Graham has
already amassed 207 rushing yards and one touchdown. He's also caught four
passes for 39 yards.
Ike Hilliard: Although his ten catches have only netted 86 yards for
the Bucs, nine of them have given the offense a fresh set of downs.
DE Gaines Adams
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Gaines Adams: While the Buccaneers' young defensive end has two
sacks, that only indicates a slice of the actual pressure he's been putting on
quarterbacks. The former Clemson star has six quarterback hits in addition to
six total tackles during his first two games of 2008
Barrett Ruud: Tampa Bay's middle linebacker has made a
team-leading 18 tackles, including 14 solo efforts.
Kyle Orton: Orton joins Cincinnati's Carson Palmer as one of the only
two-game starters who has yet to throw a touchdown pass. The best you can say
about Orton at this point is that he hasn't hurt the Bears with turnovers.
Ranked 24th in the league in passing yards (299) and 23rd in yards per attempt
(5.64), Orton is seemingly content to let Matt Forte pave the way for the Bears
Matt Forte: Where would the Bears be without the rookie out of Tulane?
Forte has emerged as one of the top talents at the running back position in the
early going, rushing for 215 yards while posting a healthy 4.67 yards per carry
Brad Maynard: The Bears punter has forced a league-best six fair
catches out of his twelve punts. But his 34.8-yards net punting average is 23rd
in the league.
Lance Briggs: Leading the Chicago in tackles with 14 to date,
Briggs also recovered a fumble in the season opener against the Colts and ran 21
yards for a touchdown.
Bengals (0-2) at Giants (2-0)
Glenn Holt: The third-year player is doing his best to help the
Bengals' lackluster offense with his 30.0-yards average on seven kickoff returns.
QB Carson Palmer
Ned Dishman/Getty Images
Carson Palmer: Will this be the week that Cincinnati rediscovers its
passing game? QB Carson Palmer is sporting a third-worst 49.0-percent completion
average and is no longer striking fear into opposing defenses as he did a year
ago. His 37.1 passer rating is the worst among all NFL starters.
Dhani Jones: The Bengals linebacker has made 20 tackles already,
fourth-best in the league.
Keith Rivers: The rookie out of USC has settled in nicely -- and
quickly. With 18 tackles, he trails only Jones among Cincinnati's defenders.
Brandon Jacobs: Clipping off rushing yardage at a rate of 5.81 yards
per carry, the Giants' leading rusher continues to batter his opponents with his
hard-nosed running style. Although he hasn't scored a rushing touchdown yet, he's been consistent and has 209 rushing yards to show for his
efforts, sixth-best in the league.
Plaxico Burress: Averaging 107 yards of receiving per game, Burress
has given his team a new set of downs on ten of his 15 catches this season.
Justin Tuck: With three sacks in his first two games, Tuck is ensuring
that quarterbacks won't get too comfortable when playing the Giants despite the
absence of a couple of guys by the name of Strahan and Umenyiora.
John Carney: The 44-year-old kicker has made all five of his
field goal attempts for the defending World Champions.
Chiefs (0-2) at Falcons (1-1)
Erik Walden: Rookies hope to add value to their NFL teams by standing
out on special teams, and Walden has certainly been getting noticed by his
opponents. The former Middle Tennessee State linebacker has made five of the
team's 13 solo tackles while playing on the coverage teams.
WR Dwayne Bowe
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Dwayne Bowe: The second-year receiver out of LSU leads the Chiefs
with 11 receptions for a total of 139 yards and a touchdown. Nine of his 11
catches have been made in the second half.
Larry Johnson: Even though rookie Jamaal Charles has averaged 4.4
yards per carry during the eight attempts he's been granted so far, the Chiefs
keep feeding the ball to the veteran, who has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry
on 34 opportunities. .
Jarrad Page: The Chiefs free safety leads the team in tackles with
fourteen, and he's also forced a fumble, recovered one and defended a pass.
Matt Ryan: The Falcons rookie has completed just 47.8 percent of his
passes, second-worst in the league. He's thrown two interceptions and has
been sacked five times.
Michael Turner: If the Falcons running back can't torch the Chiefs
defense this weekend, his dominating 220-yard performance in Week 1 could be
written off as a fluke. Turner has the third-best average in the league at 7.28
yards per carry and has scored two rushing touchdowns.
Michael Jenkins: Remember him from the highlight reel on opening day
when he caught that 62-yard pass from Ryan for a touchdown? That's the only pass
he's caught this year. The Falcons need him to step up and make some plays.
John Abraham: After three sacks in the season opener, Abraham
tacked on another last week and leads the league.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
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