Four players to watch

October, 1, 2009
10/01/09
3:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


The following is a player from each AFC west team to keep an eye on in Week 4.

Denver's Brian Dawkins: Many folks around the league wondered if the former Philadelphia star had much left in the tank when Denver signed him early in free agency. That is no longer a question. Dawkins, who will turn 36 in 12 days, still has plenty to offer. He is thumping for Denver and is a big part of the defensive resurgence for the Broncos. He is playing at a high level.

Kansas City's Larry Johnson: The running back has to show he can still be a factor. He has had a lackluster start to the season. Johnson, who’ll turn 30 next month, ran for just 38 yards on 19 carries against the Eagles. If he does not improve his totals Sunday against the Giants, he may lose some carries in future games.

Oakland's Darrius Heyward-Bey: The rookie receiver needs to pick it up. Yes, he is only a rookie. But the Raiders feel good enough about playing him, so he needs to start producing. He has one catch in three games. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell has been horrid, but he does need some help and that’s why Heyward-Bey was paid $23 million in guaranteed money. He needs to start proving his worth.

San Diego's Vincent Jackson: He is fast becoming a superstar receiver. The big, fast target is Philip Rivers favorite weapon. The two have connected on huge plays all season. If San Diego has a chance of winning at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Jackson will have to make some big plays.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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