NFC West penalty watch: Brown takes lead

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

In a mild upset, Cardinals tackle Levi Brown has moved past Rams guard Richie Incognito in the "race" to lead all NFC West players in penalties this season.

While Incognito will be tough to unseat as the reigning NFC West penalty champion, Brown has come on strong with six penalties already this season, only two fewer than he had in 2008. Brown is on pace for 19 penalties in 2009, six more than Incognito had last season.

Incognito's famously hot temper should give him an advantage over the even-keeled, intellectually inclined Brown, who graduated from Penn State in less than four years. Incognito has two penalties for unnecessary roughness and one for tripping this season, although his lone infraction since Week 2 was for a relatively benign false start.

Rams tackle Alex Barron, who tied for third in the division with 11 penalties last season, has matched Incognito so far. Barron has five penalties, including at least one in four of the Rams' first six games. Two penalties for illegal formation, two for holding and a Week 6 flag for a false start are keeping him in contention.

The chart shows NFC West penalty "leaders" through Week 6. The figures count declined penalties.

The Seahawks' Max Unger replaced teammate Ray Willis on the list after the NFL shifted blame for a penalty from Willis to Unger. The penalty was for holding with 1:43 left in the second quarter of the Seahawks' game at Indianapolis in Week 4.

Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui, who ranked second in the division with 12 penalties last season, has only two in 2009.

The NFL makes available stats for accepted penalties (Rams have second-most, Seahawks have second-fewest). ESPN Stats & Information tracks declined penalties as well.

Bills offensive lineman Demetrius Bell and Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth lead the NFL with eight total penalties, one more than the Cowboys' Flozell Adams. Rams cornerback Ron Bartell ranks second in penalty yardage with 56. The Dolphins' Will Allen is first with 69.