ALAMEDA, Calif. – Starting Oakland Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley is not practicing Wednesday.

Woodley was hurt Sunday in a loss to Arizona. On Monday, interim Oakland coach Tony Sparano wouldn’t disclose the ailment. By NFL rules, the Raiders must identify Woodley’s injury after practice Wednesday.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers watched practice. He has sat out several practices this season.

Three players who missed Sunday’s game did return to practice. Defensive end Justin Tuck (knee), fullback Marcel Reece (quad), right tackle Khalif Barnes (quad) and receiver Vincent Brown (hamstring) are all practicing Wednesday. Barnes and Brown missed the past two games. Even with Barnes back, Menelik Watson could still start. The second-year player performed well in Barnes’ absence.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine, in a conference call with Bay Area media, said the Raiders have taken Sparano’s personality since he took over earlier this month.

“I think a lot of Tony and just kind of his approach to football and the mentality,” said Pettine, who worked with Sparano when both were on the New York Jets staff. “It’s clear to see in the games that he’s been in charge that it’s definitely his stamp.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – If the past accounts for anything Thursday night, Denver Broncos rookie cornerback Bradley Roby can expect, and should expect, Philip Rivers to put Roby on the hot seat.

Because when the San Diego Chargers came to Denver last December, on a short week, for a Thursday night game, Rivers looked early and often at then-rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster. Rivers repeatedly tested Webster in last season’s 20-13 Chargers victory, a total that included a 14-yard completion to Vincent Brown in the first quarter, a 12-yard completion to Eddie Royal in the second quarter, a 10-yard touchdown throw to Keenan Allen in the second quarter, and a 32-yard completion to Brown in the third quarter.

[+] EnlargePhilip Rivers
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesPhilip Rivers could look to single out rookie cornerback Bradley Roby on Thursday.
“I told Kayvon at the time, those were about Philip’s accuracy," said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. “There are always technique things you can do, footwork, at the line of scrimmage, but Kayvon was in the right spot a lot of time, it’s just Philip is accurate and he challenges everybody. He doesn’t care who you are; he would challenge Champ [Bailey]. I think he’ll come after me, too, because he has in the past."

Roby, who was the Broncos' first-round pick in this past May’s draft, has been tossed into the mix from his first day in the Broncos complex. Right from Roby’s first day, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio told the rookie he would have to “earn his way," and that Roby shouldn’t be surprised if he couldn’t crack the rotation right way.

The Broncos also tested Roby early in training camp, with both offensive coordinator Adam Gase and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas having said they “picked on’’ Roby plenty in those early practices. It was all for the greater good, however, for both Roby and the defense.

Because even then Del Rio had high hopes for Roby in the defense and one of the most important things for a young defensive back to do in the NFL is bounce back from mistakes, to survive, with some semblance of confidence intact, when the league’s best behind center find where you are in the coverage.

“I think it’s always the way where you, as a young player, have to keep fighting in there," is how defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, a defensive captain, has put it. “Guys in this league are going to test you, every game. If you can’t keep coming back, they’ll keep coming after you."

“I want them to trust me," Roby said. “I always say I want to be one of the reasons we win the game."

Del Rio has moved Roby all over the formation and figures to do it again against the Chargers. Roby, who didn’t play much, or ever, in the slot at Ohio State, has been put there plenty by Del Rio. Del Rio has matched Roby up on the likes of Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Crabtree while even adding Roby to the pass rush in recent weeks.

Roby has played on 78.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this season and is third on the team in passes defensed – behind only the starting cornerbacks, Harris and Aqib Talib.

“You can’t be frustrated with guys like Rivers, [Tom] Brady or Peyton [Manning]," Harris said. “You can’t get frustrated with those guys. They’re going to make some tough throws into some tight coverages and you’ve just got to line back up to the next play. I remember last year, Kayvon had some great coverage and [Rivers] was able to just fit the ball in. So you can’t be discouraged. We’re definitely going to make those throws a challenge. He’s going to have to make some perfect throws. … And whoever is out there with us will be ready."
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos place-kicker Brandon McManus, who was held out of Tuesday’s practice because of a groin injury, practiced Wednesday and will kick in Thursday night’s game.

McManus’ injury is to his kicking leg and he has appeared on the Broncos’ injury report since Oct. 1. The Broncos had held McManus out of practice one day last week as well.

The Broncos traded a conditional draft pick to the New York Giants just before the regular season opened because Matt Prater was headed for a four-game suspension for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. McManus was 3-of-3 on field goal attempts during Prater’s suspension. Since the injury, as well as since Prater’s release, Mcmanus is 3-of-4 with his miss coming from 53 yards.

On his 37 kickoffs this season, McManus has forced 28 touchbacks, the third most in the league behind only Indianapolis’ Pat McAfee and Baltimore’s Justin Tucker.

Running back Montee Ball (groin) again worked with the strength and conditioning staff, but did not participate in practice and was formally ruled out for Thursday’s game. The Broncos have at least some optimism Ball could practice next week on a limited basis if he continues his current progress.

Defensive back Omar Bolden (concussion) also was ruled out for the game. Linebacker Steven Johnson (ankle), who leads the team in special-teams tackles, was listed as questionable and the Broncos have optimism he’ll be able to play.

"I like the depth of our football team," Broncos coach John Fox said. "So we’ve got options we feel good about, but Stevie is still questionable for the game."
SAN DIEGO -- In the San Diego Chargers’ only win in three games against the Denver Broncos last season, the blueprint appeared pretty clear.

Rivers
The Chargers used running back Ryan Mathews to wear down Denver’s defense by churning first downs. San Diego’s defense won on third down against one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game.

And by churning first downs on offense, quarterback Philip Rivers essentially played keep-away from Manning.

Mathews ran for 127 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown. The Chargers held the ball for more than 38 minutes. And Denver’s offense finished 2-of-9 on third down, helping San Diego earn a 27-20 victory.

Can San Diego put on a repeat performance on Thursday night?

“We want to be on the field as much as we can,” Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “We want to play our game. And that is our game. Our game is convert on third down, mix it with the run and pass, be efficient and score touchdowns in the red zone.”

Reich went on to say that undrafted rookie free-agent running back Branden Oliver will get his opportunities on Thursday. Oliver has rushed for over 100 yards in two of San Diego’s past three games.

“Against this defense you want to stay out of third-and-longs against those pass-rushers that they’ve got over there,” Reich said. “So we want to have positive plays, stay in phase and try to keep doing what we want to do. And Branden has been running the ball great, so we’re going to try to get him more touches than he had last week.”

Oliver rushed 16 times for 69 yards in a loss against Kansas City last week.

Rivers said whether or not his team runs the ball effectively or controls the clock, there’s one thing the Chargers have to do -- score early and often. Denver is averaging a league-best 31.5 points per game.

“I don’t think we go into the game playing keep-away,” Rivers said. “We go into the game playing to score. And if we score fast, great -- but we’ve got to score. You can’t go three to four possessions without scoring. We did that in the playoff game, and when you look up it was 21-0, 17-0 or whatever it was, just like that. And that’s not a team you want to be playing catch-up with all day long.”
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Shortly after Sunday's game at San Diego, Jamaal Charles passed off the helmet-to-helmet hit he took from former teammate Brandon Flowers as no big deal.

"Yeah, he put a big hit on me and I’m thankful that I got up healthy,” Charles said after the Chiefs' 23-20 victory.

Charles changed his story during an interview with ESPN Radio today.

Charles
“It definitely hurt,'' he said. "A couple plays later, I just (saw) this light buzz around my eyes and I was trying to catch ‘em. But I was like, ‘let’s get the ball and run again.’"

The hit happened on Charles' touchdown run in the second quarter. He went on to describe other symptoms that could be consistent with those of a concussion. He said he had flashbacks to scenes from his childhood. But he indicated he was never checked for a concussion because, he said, he didn't have one. Charles finished the game.

“I didn’t have a concussion,'' he said. "It was definitely a hit that shocked me. I didn’t think I had to go through the concussion protocol and all that because I didn’t want to go through that again. That’s what happened in the playoffs. I was definitely fine. I think I came out pretty good.

"I could definitely play through stuff like that. It wasn’t a concussion. If it was a concussion I wouldn’t remember the plays or remember none of my teammates’ names or remember what sideline to go to. I definitely remember everything. It was just a huge hit.''

Charles was removed in the first quarter of last year's playoff game against Indianapolis after taking a hit to the head. He didn't return. Charles later insisted he didn't have a concussion.

Chiefs need to keep using Dwayne Bowe

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
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Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher talks about wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and his ability as a playmaker.

Dwight Freeney faces Peyton Manning

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
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ESPN Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams says Dwight Freeney played with Peyton Manning for a decade with the Colts. He gets a chance to sack Manning for the first time when the Chargers face the Broncos on Thursday.

Raiders face another rookie QB

October, 22, 2014
Oct 22
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ESPN Raiders reporter Bill Williamson compares the road of Derek Carr to Browns rookie Johnny Manziel.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In case you missed it, during the bye week I issued my list of Jamaal Charles’ best five games for the Kansas City Chiefs. I didn’t go with the best statistical games necessarily, though naturally some of them are going to be on the list. The only requirement I had was that the Chiefs had to win the game for it to make the list. I wasn’t going to list a game that the Chiefs lost.

Now, after Charles broke Priest Holmes’ record for career rushing yardage for the Chiefs, I have to add this game to my list in the No. 5 spot. The Chiefs beat the Chargers 23-20 on Sunday in San Diego and the play on which Charles broke the record really captured the essence of the kind of player Charles is.

Charles
Charles didn’t have a lot of blocking help on the play. He took the ball around right end, cut back to the middle of the field and from there weaved his way through defenders for 16 yards. He took a helmet to helmet hit at the end of the play from a former teammate, Brandon Flowers, but popped right up. That the play went for a touchdown made it even sweeter.

One more thing about Charles and his record: Most of his yards have come honestly. He didn’t pile up a lot of big numbers after the Chiefs were hopelessly behind or far ahead but when his team needed them.

In 2009, when Charles set the Chiefs’ all-time single-game record for rushing yardage, he had the chance to break the league record. But the Chiefs had a healthy lead in the fourth quarter and Charles wasn’t interested in getting the record that way. He asked to be removed from the game and the Chiefs complied.

That’s another reason why Charles, franchise record or not, is the best runner the Chiefs have ever had.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The numbers speak for themselves and they’re essentially shouting at everyone at the moment.

Shouting that Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller leads the NFL with eight sacks while defensive end DeMarcus Ware is among four players tied for second in the league with seven sacks. Miller’s eight sacks put him ahead of six of the league’s teams and those 15 sacks between the Broncos’ two marquee pass-rushers put the pair ahead of 14 teams.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware
AP Photo/Jack DempseyDeMarcus Ware's ability to get to the quarterback has benefited the Broncos this season.
The Broncos’ 21 sacks also tie them for third in the league though they've played one fewer game than the other four teams with at least 21. But if sacks had assists, Miller and Ware know who would get them. Because while the glamour guys collect the highlights along the way, it takes a defensive village to raise a sack.

"And those guys in the middle, they make it go," Miller said. "It’s like I’ve said, they’re unselfish, they just get to work."

In the end, it’s simple math, really -- the smaller the pocket for the quarterback to move around in, the bigger the chance Miller or Ware will finish a play with a sack.

They are the UTR Club perhaps, an under the radar football thing they all understand. And Terrance Knighton, Sylvester Williams, Marvin Austin Jr., Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson have done the roll-up-the-sleeves work on the interior that, both Miller and Ware say, has allowed the Broncos’ edge rushers to have exactly the kind of impact the team had hoped.

Knighton, in particular, has caught the eye of personnel executives around the league as one of the most disruptive players in the Broncos' defense, even in the mass of humanity along the line of scrimmage.

"We wouldn’t be able to have success that we’re having right now without Malik and Derek Wolfe and Marvin and all those guys," Miller said. " … It’s like in basketball when you’ve got Kobe and Shaq. Those guys really make it go and I’m not trying to be funny about it, but those guys -- if it wasn’t for what Malik and Derek do -- we wouldn’t be able to do what we do on the outside. … They’re very unselfish."

This all was part of the offseason plan. In a defensive overhaul where plenty of attention in free agency and the draft went to the secondary, the Broncos’ decision-makers hoped recovery from injuries would give them back the defensive front they wanted.

Wolfe had spent the back half of the 2013 season on injured reserve after suffering seizure-like symptoms as the Broncos prepared to go on a road trip. Miller had suffered a torn ACL in a December game against the Houston Texans and Ware was a player the Dallas Cowboys were prepared to cut loose because, "They felt like they had a decision to make and maybe I wasn’t the player I was."

The Broncos gladly dove in with a three-year, $30 million contract for Ware with the idea that a fresh start would be what was needed after he finished with six sacks in 2013. It’s what defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio had been talking about for much of the offseason when he said that beyond the injuries that sent five defensive starters to injured reserve by the time the Broncos played in Super Bowl XLVIII, the fact the team wasn’t able to replace Elvis Dumervil’s impact last season impacted what the defense could do the most.

With Dumervil and Miller together in ’12, the two combined for 29.5 sacks as the Broncos tied for the league lead with 52 and the Broncos allowed just five rushing touchdowns.

"I think it all goes together," Knighton said. "When we get the good push in there, don’t give quarterbacks room to move up and throw, with DeMarcus and Von coming from the outside, that’s what we want. Hopefully I get a sack or two with all that, but if they get a sack, if we see them with the quarterback, we know we did our job, too. Sacks make everybody feel good."
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball returned -- briefly -- to the practice field Tuesday, but the Broncos had enough concerns about their overall depth at running back to tweak the roster.

Ball
Ball, who suffered a right groin injury in the Broncos’ Oct. 5 win over the Arizona Cardinals, was in a jersey and on the practice field during the open period of practice for the first time since the injury. Ball went through the pre-practice stretching with the team and then went to work with the strength and conditioning coaches.

The Broncos have planned for Ball to miss at least three weeks with the injury -- and Thursday night’s game against the San Diego Chargers will be the third game Ball has missed -- so they promoted running back Kapri Bibbs from their practice squad, even as some teams in the league had started to circle the undrafted rookie with interest in signing him.

“I think he’s a guy that we liked," Broncos head coach John Fox said of Bibbs following Tuesday’s practice. “... Right now, until Montee starts moving along, getting well, (Bibbs) is really our fourth back, so we felt the need to do that and did so."

The Broncos also held kicker Brandon McManus (groin), defensive back Omar Bolden (concussion) and linebacker Steven Johnson (ankle) out of Tuesday’s practice. Bolden and Johnson are not expected to play Thursday night.

McManus has been limited in at least one practice in recent weeks but has not missed any game action because of the injury. Fox said he expected that to be the case this week as well.

“See what tomorrow brings. ... I’m sure he’ll be good to go," Fox said.

In an abbreviated practice week, the Broncos did not wear helmets in Tuesday’s work, with the players in jerseys and shorts for the early-afternoon workout.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – With the kind of speed that would make any overnight delivery service proud, the football Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw to Demaryius Thomas on Sunday night for Manning’s 509th career touchdown pass is on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Eric Lars Bakke/Denver BroncosPeyton Manning poses with Demaryius Thomas, who caught his record-breaking 509th TD pass, and Hall of Fame rep Joe Horrigan, who raced to put the ball on display in Canton, Ohio.
The ball, along with a handwritten sign on a sheet of three-ring binder paper with “509’’ in black ink on it, to go with three photos, sits comfortably in a case inside an exhibit entitled “Pro Football Today.’’

Asked as he prepared to leave Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday night, Joe Horrigan, the Hall’s long-time vice president of communications/exhibits, said his plan was “to display it as soon as we possibly can.’’

Horrigan secured the record-breaking football from the Broncos’ equipment staff following the game -- Manning had posed for a few photos with it, including a photo with Thomas, inside the Broncos locker room -- and returned to Canton, Ohio, on Monday morning, football packed in his luggage. The football and the sign were brought to the Hall after hours on Monday night and put on display on Tuesday morning.

Horrigan said Manning has provided “several items’’ that are on display in the Hall, including a uniform from the 2013 season when Manning won his record fifth MVP award and threw for a single-season record 55 touchdowns.

The Film Don't Lie: Chargers

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
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A weekly look at what the San Diego Chargers must fix:

Solving the team’s poor tackling will be an issue the San Diego Chargers have to resolve sooner rather than later since they face an explosive Denver Broncos offense on Thursday night.

The Chargers allowed the Chiefs to rush for 154 total yards in a 23-20 loss over the weekend. Kansas City finished with eight plays of 16-plus yards from scrimmage.

“We had too many missed tackles,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “That’s something we work on every week. It’s a basic fundamental of the game. And we gave up too many yards where we should have stopped them, and they made some plays.”

For the most part, San Diego has been a good tackling team leading up to the Kansas City game, limiting big gains. The Chargers have to solve the team’s tackling issues quickly because they face a Denver offense averaging 8.52 yards per play in the passing game, No. 2 in the NFL behind San Diego (8.53).

In order to fix the poor tackling, San Diego’s defense has to do a better job of playing with leverage and playing "to your help" on the field, according to defensive co-captain and linebacker Jarret Johnson.

“The reason we missed tackles was them creating plays that put us in space, and us not playing to our leverage,” Johnson said. “You don’t know where your leverage is, and you might be overrunning it or taking bad angles on your tackles.

“We have to be more aware of where our help is. These running backs -- especially a running back like Jamaal Charles -- it’s going to be really tough to get him down in the open field by yourself, so you have to play to your help.”

The Film Don’t Lie: Raiders

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
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A weekly look at what the Oakland Raiders must fix:

The Raiders are headed to Cleveland next Sunday a broken team. At 0-6, they are the NFL’s only winless squad look incapable of winning a game. The Raiders are getting outplayed and outproduced, and Oakland is contributing to its losing cause, as well.

Among its many mistakes against Arizona was undisciplined play. Oakland was called for eight penalties for 74 yards. Half of those penalties resulted in first downs for Arizona, and Oakland was called for penalties on two of the Cardinals' three touchdown drives.

The problem for Oakland is the penalties are increasing as the season goes on. The Raiders were traditionally one of the most penalized teams, if not the most penalized team, in the league. Under Dennis Allen, who took over in 2012 and was fired after Week 4 this season, the Raiders had cleaned it up.

But they have been penalized a total of 19 times in the past two games under interim coach Tony Sparano. Oakland was penalized just 15 times in the first three games. It was penalized nine times in Allen’s last game.

Sparano often preaches that Oakland has to stop beating Oakland. Lots of those penalties are just mental lapses. Sparano is working hard to stop it in all phases. There have been dividends paid in some areas, but getting his team to play smart, controlled football at the line of scrimmage has to be a focus of Sparano and his staff.

This team has enough problems. Hurting itself with penalties is only multiplying the issues.

The Film Don't Lie: Chiefs

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
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A weekly look at what the Chiefs must fix:

Just as they do every week, the Kansas City Chiefs will need a big game from Dwayne Bowe on Sunday when they play against the St. Louis Rams. Bowe is their best wide receiver and the Chiefs received a grisly look at what their passing game looks like without him in their season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Chiefs need to make Bowe more of a priority in their passing game. They did that in their win against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, when Bowe was their leading targeted receiver for the first time this season. Alex Smith threw seven passes in Bowe's direction.

Though Bowe dropped a third-down pass that could have been costly, he was the Chiefs' leading receiver with five catches for 84 yards and had a 19-yard gain on the game-winning field goal drive.

But the Chiefs can do more with Bowe. What he does best is run after the catch. He's big, runs strong and is hard to tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, 32 of his yards against the Chargers came after the catch.

So the Chiefs should get the ball more to Bowe in the open field. They threw a lot of bubble screens to Bowe earlier in his career to get him going that way but have mostly abandoned that.

They should get back to that against the Rams and beyond.

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