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Thursday, November 24, 2011
One player to watch

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

One player to watch from each AFC West team in Week 12:

Denver, Elvis Dumervil, defensive end: After dealing with several injuries early in the season, Dumervil is healthy and it's showing. He has all 3.5 of his 2011 sacks in the past three games. He is coming on strong and he is teaming with rookie Von Miller to give Denver a first-class pass-rush. The pair could do some real damage Sunday at San Diego against the Chargers’ battered offensive line.

Kansas City, Derrick Johnson, linebacker: Johnson is having a terrific season and is leading the AFC West with 83 tackles. Johnson was very active in Week 11 at New England and shined with 12 tackles despite the 31-point loss. If the Chiefs have any chance to stick with the Steelers in Week 12, Johnson will need to continue to make plays.

Oakland, Jared Veldheer, tackle: The second-year left tackle is having a strong season. He shut down Minnesota sack star Jared Allen in Week 11. Allen had a sack in 11 straight games, but Veldheer kept him in check. Now, Veldheer gets to tangle with Chicago’s Julius Peppers on Sunday. However, don’t expect Veldheer to be intimidated. He is becoming an upper-level left tackle.

San Diego, Nick Hardwick, center: He is the anchor of a battered offensive line. The Chargers have been playing without three starting offensive lineman because of injuries. Hardwick brought the unit together and found a way not to allow any sacks at Chicago in Week 11. Miller and Dumervill will pose a challenge, so Hardwick will have to rally the troops again Sunday.