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Thursday, May 31, 2012
Evening AFC West notes

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey entered a not-guilty plea to drunk driving charges Thursday in a San Francisco court, through his attorney.

His next court date is June 28. Heyward-Bey -- Oakland’s top pick in 2009 who made strong strides in 2011 -- was arrested in April. Earlier this month, he apologized for bringing negative attention to the team.

If convicted, Heyward-Bey could face league discipline and will be part of the league’s substance-abuse program if he isn’t currently in it. The program is confidential, but drunk-driving convictions result in that player being put in it.

Chargers coach Norv Turner said lead back Ryan Mathews is the favorite to be the team’s third-down back in 2012, U-T San Diego reports. It is another indication that the team believes Mathews is ready to carry a big load as he enters his third NFL season.

San Diego receiver Vincent Brown, entering his second NFL season, isn’t just a pair of pretty hands.