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Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Johnson back in K.C.; new play-caller in Oakland

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Around the AFC West where Larry Johnson is back in Kansas City and Oakland offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has been stripped of his play-calling duties:

Denver
The Broncos' linebackers are all hurt.

My take: There isn't a team in the NFL dealing with as many injuries as the Broncos. The Broncos have lost three running backs in the past week and all three of their starting linebackers are hurt. Boss Bailey is out for the season and D.J. Williams and Nate Webster will likely miss two or three more games. Star cornerback Champ Bailey will likely miss at least one more game. Undrafted rookie Josh Bell and veteran Karl Paymah could play in Bailey's place. Denver is banged up.

Kansas City
Larry Johnson is back with the club.

My take: It's time for Kansas City to allow Johnson back. He was punished for three games by the team and then one game by the NFL for off-field issues. Since he was inactivate and suspended for three games by the Chiefs, Johnson missed just one game check and that came when he was suspended by the league for the San Diego game.

Four games away from the team is a stuff penalty. Johnson now has seven games remaining with the Chiefs to show the team that he is worth keeping around in 2009. Johnson is probably gone after this season. But if he plays well, he could change the team's mind. It will be interesting to see what Kansas City's offense is like with Tyler Thigpen and Johnson in the same backfield. Thigpen is best suited for the spread offense where the running game is a second option. The Chiefs will have to find a way to get the most out of both Thigpen and Johnson.

The Chiefs' defense is beat up.

My Take: If the Chiefs lose Turk McBride for the season it will hurt. He is a big part of the defense. The Chiefs were playing without several starters against San Diego. That's why Chiefs coach Herman Edwards decided to go for two points and try to win the game in the final minute. After the loss, Edwards said his defense just wasn't healthy enough to go to overtime.

Oakland
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has been stripped of his play-calling duties.

My take: You can't argue with this team trying to change its offensive fortunes. Oakland hasn't scored a touchdown in three games and it was two games between trips to the end zone before that. Oakland has scored a league-low 113 points this season. Apparently, interim coach Tom Cable is calling the plays now. Oakland is a mess and the play calling is just a part of it. But you can't argue with it. The Raiders weren't scoring under Knapp, who will likely end up on Jim Mora's staff in Seattle next year, so a change is understandable.

San Diego
The Chargers' run game isn't right.

My take: LaDainian Tomlinson said this week the running game isn't working as well as it should be. He said he is healthy from a turf toe injury he suffered in Week 1. Still, Tomlinson had just 78 yards on 22 carries against Kansas City on Sunday. I think the Chargers need to use both Tomlinson and backup Daren Sproles. He has a nice burst and he is an excellent change of pace back. I'm not saying Sproles should take carries away from Tomlinson. The Chargers need to force the issue and create caries for both. With Sproles in the mix, it will take pressure of Tomlinson and help create opportunities for him.