|ESPN.com: AFC West||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Here are four players to watch from the AFC West in Week 9:
Denver cornerback Karl Paymah: Paymah has been inserted into the Broncos starting lineup to replace superstar Champ Bailey. Bailey was hurt at New England on Oct. 20. He will miss at least a month with a groin injury. Paymah has been a career nickel-and-dime package defender. He lost his nickel package job to rookie Jack Williams earlier this season. However, Paymah has had success in man coverage. Last season, while in the nickel package, Denver would move starter Dre' Bly to nickel and have Paymah play corner. He will need to be good while Bailey is out beginning Sunday against Miami. One thing is for certain: Paymah will be tested.
Denver running back Ryan Torain: Torain's long awaited debut is expected to come Sunday against Miami. He practiced fully Wednesday and is expected to play for the first time since breaking his elbow in camp in early August. Torain likely won't play extensively in his debut, but he should get some carries. Denver coach Mike Shanahan has compared him to Terrell Davis. So the entire state of Colorado is naturally interested in seeing Torain finally play.
Kansas City running back Kolby Smith: Smith is the Chiefs starter for the time being and it could be for a long while. He took over when the team punished Larry Johnson for off-field issues a few weeks ago. Johnson is expected to play Sunday against Tampa Bay but could soon be facing an NFL suspension. With rookie Jamaal Charles hurt with a high ankle sprain, a lot will be expected from Smith. With the Chiefs using the spread offense with quarterback Tyler Thigpen, Smith won't be the focal point, but he will need to get some yardage. He failed to get a key first down with the Chiefs holding onto a three-point lead late in an eventual loss to the Jets on Sunday. Smith has some improving to do and it will be interesting to see how he progresses.
Oakland running back Justin Fargas: He hasn't had a very good season. Sure, Fargas is coming off a groin injury, but he hasn't been the player he was last season when he ran for a career high 1,009 yards. Fargas had just 24 yards rushing at Baltimore last week. That needs to improve against the Falcons on Sunday. With rookie Darren McFadden banged up, Fargas needs to step up with a big game to take pressure off quarterback JaMarcus Russell.