Random AFC West thoughts

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

While the majority of the afternoon and the evening will be occupied with pregame, in-game and postgame coverage of Denver's visit to Oakland tonight on ESPN's Monday Night Football, I have some random AFC West thoughts I wanted to discuss.

The Chargers' Super Bowl aspirations are not damaged by the loss to Carolina. The Chargers have work to do but the loss to the Panthers isn't overly damaging. Look, Indianapolis and Jacksonville, two other top AFC teams lost, and New England QB Tom Brady was lost for the season. This conference is wide open. Remember, this was a nonconference defeat for San Diego. Those are the best kind of losses.

It seems like Chiefs rookie left tackle Branden Albert performed well in his first NFL action Sunday at New England. The No. 15 overall draft pick missed the entire preseason with a foot injury.

Yes, it was only one game. but the Chargers' defense needs to shore up quickly. The Panthers ran and passed at will, especially on the game-winning drive.

Boy, that Darren Sproles is a return star. You better kick touchbacks against the Chargers or you are going to be in trouble.

The early consensus around the league is that Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard delivered a clean hit on Brady when he hurt his knee. Patriots' receiver Randy Moss said it was dirty. Pollard defended the play and expressed remorse that Brady was hurt on the play.

The Broncos are happy with top pick Ryan Clady. Clady will debut at left tackle tonight and he better be good. Denver was considering drafting Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart but instead took Clady at No. 12. One pick later, Stewart was taken by Carolina. Stewart stood out and he looked like a star on Sunday. Clady may be a star and Denver needed a left tackle more than a running back so the pick was understandable. That said, Stewart sure looked good.