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Four players to watch

12/31/2009

Here are players from each AFC West team to watch in Week 17:

Knowshon Moreno, running back, Denver: Moreno, the No. 12 overall pick in April, needs to pick it up as Denver tries to get into the playoffs against Kansas City. He only has 60 yards on 28 carries in the past two games and has obviously hit the rookie wall. Moreno has to find a way out of his doldrums to help his club.

Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City: Charles is finishing the season strong and had 102 yards in Week 16 against Cincinnati. Charles, who is averaging 5.2 yards per carry, needs 139 yards to reach 1,000 rushing yards on the season. That would be a great accomplishment for this young, exciting player.

Mike Mitchell, safety, Oakland: The second-round pick has been getting more play on defense after playing on special teams early in the season. Mitchell looks very active and he has a lot of spunk on the field. Any playing time now will be valuable in his overall development.

Billy Volek, quarterback, San Diego: We’re just assuming here, but expect to see a fair share of Volek on Sunday against Washington. There is no need to get starter Philip Rivers hurt, so Volek should get some quality playing time as the Chargers prepare for the playoffs. Volek is one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. He showed his value in the 2007 playoffs when he helped beat the Colts on the road when Rivers went down with a knee injury. If Volek is on the field Sunday, don’t expect a terrible drop off.