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Thursday, November 20, 2008
Four AFC West players to watch

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is this week's four players to watch in the AFC West:

Champ Bailey, cornerback, Denver: The Broncos aren't positive Bailey will play Sunday against Oakland, but the chances are that he will try to get on the field. Bailey has been out since Oct. 20 against New England with a groin injury. He nearly played against Atlanta last week but the team didn't think he was ready. Bailey will continue to be brought back slowly, but there's a chance he does play Sunday as he gets ready for the stretch run in the AFC West.

Chris Johnson, cornerback, Oakland: Denver will be coming after Johnson on Sunday. Denver rookie sensation receiver Eddie Royal had nine catches against Oakland on opening day in Oakland. Royal destroyed cornerback DeAngelo Hall, and it was the beginning of the end for Hall in Oakland in his very first game there. Oakland ended up cutting him after eight games. Johnson, who has replaced Hall, will likely face Royal. Expect Denver quarterback Jay Cutler to target him. To his credit, however, Johnson has been decent in his two starts in Oakland.

Larry Johnson, running back, Kansas City: Johnson will be fascinating to watch the rest of the season. Kansas City gave him 19 carries Sunday in his first game back after sitting out four games as a punishment levied by the team and the league. Johnson was supposed to get 12-15 carries in his first game back. Even though Kansas City now runs a spread offense with quarterback Tyler Thigpen, there is still room for Johnson, and they showed that Sunday. He only had 67 yards, but this running back will get a chance to show he can be an impact player again for Kansas City against Buffalo on Sunday.

Jyles Tucker, linebacker, San Diego: Tucker, the replacement for superstar Shawne Merriman, is one of San Diego's best pass rushers. He had a sack Sunday as the Chargers regained their swagger with four sacks against Pittsburgh. Tucker is going to need to lead the way again Sunday against Indianapolis. This is a must-win game for the 4-6 Chargers. San Diego has to beat the Colts or its AFC West title hopes, which seemed like a foregone conclusion in the summer, we'll be all but dashed. Tucker needs to make Colts quarterback Peyton Manning uncomfortable for San Diego to have a chance. If the Chargers don't get a pass rush going, it could be a long night.