AFC West: 2011 NFL preseason Week 2

Random thoughts from the Chargers’ 20-7 win at Dallas on Sunday night:
  • I like the way Ryan Mathews ran the ball. Give him credit He ran hard and he is making strides after starting training camp slow because of poor conditioning. He was terrific on a 15-yard touchdown run. He had 35 yards rushing on seven carries.
  • Sixth-round pick Jordan Todman continues to look good. He had 27 yards on five carries, and he had a big play nullified by a penalty. He could be in the mix on third downs.
  • Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson are ready to play Minnesota. The game is in three weeks. But this pass-catch combination is set. Rivers completed 8 of 11 passes for 92 yards. Jackson had three catches for 49 yards.
  • With starter Antonio Gates out as a precaution, veteran backup Randy McMichael showed he his value. He had three catches for 24 yards, including a nifty 7-yard touchdown catch.
  • San Diego head coach Norv Turner has said the key to not starting slow again is to avoid committing turnovers early in the season. Turner has to be pleased San Diego did not commit a turnover in this game.
  • Corey Liuget is going to make lot of plays. The No. 18 overall draft pick has been explosive and he has been beating his opponent routinely. Expect him to make his presence known as a starter at defensive end as a rookie. He had a sack
  • Backup defensive lineman Vaughn Martin is making strides. He had two sacks Sunday, He has been a long-term project and the former Canadian college player is starting to live up to his potential. Perhaps we’ll see him as a rotational player this season.
  • Overall, San Diego’s defense played strong for the second straight game. Dallas’ first-team offense did have one dominant drive. But this was a solid outing for Greg Manusky’s unit.
  • Starting receiver Malcom Floyd left the game with a concussion. He will be monitored. The NFL takes concussion treatment extremely serious. So, I wouldn’t be shocked if Floyd doesn’t play next week.
  • After an eight-tackle performance last week, rookie free-agent linebacker Darryl Gamble had two tackles Sunday.

Breaking down Broncos vs. Bills

August, 20, 2011
Some thoughts about the Denver Broncos' 24-10 win over the visiting Buffalo Bills on Saturday night:

It was a good overall game for Denver. The Broncos played well both offensively and defensively.

Quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn were terrific. They combined for 20-of-29 passing for 265 yards. Quinn worked with the second team ahead of Tim Tebow. Quinn played well for a second straight game.

Don’t expect Quinn to give up his backup spot in the coming days. Tebow played late and he didn’t do much. The fact that Quinn threw 16 passes and Tebow tossed just two shows the team is much more interested in seeing Quinn play than seeing Tebow at this point. Tebow’s arrow is simply not pointing in the right direction as we approach the start of the season.

The Broncos didn’t run the ball well. Knowshon Moreno had 28 yards on six carries. Willis McGahee had just 6 yards on five carries. The Broncos want to run the ball often, so this is an area that must be improved.

Receiver Brandon Lloyd looked to be in midseason form as he had four catches for 55 yards.

Denver’s defense -- which was ranked No. 32 in the NFL last season -- was strong, especially against the pass. Buffalo starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was just 6-of-16 passing for 44 yards.

Von Miller, the No. 2 overall pick in the April draft, showed his explosiveness with a sack, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Breaking down Raiders vs. 49ers

August, 20, 2011
Random thoughts about the Oakland Raiders' 17-3 loss at the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night:

Oakland starting quarterback Jason Campbell went down late in the second quarter and he left the game with an undisclosed injury. He was favoring his hand. But the injury didn’t initially appear to be serious.

He played nearly the entire first half and it wouldn’t have made any sense if he re-entered the game. I’m sure more information will come out about his status, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is minor. Campbell played well before his injury. But the sight of him going down in a heap must be nervous for Oakland as it hopes for a fast improvement by the offensive line.

Campbell was replaced by Trent Edwards. He wasn’t as effective as he was last week. Edwards made a bad choice and threw an ill-advised pass that was intercepted.

The Raiders’ moved the ball well at times, but still had trouble finding the end zone. They had to settle for four field goals and one score last week. Finishing drives has to continue to be a point of emphasis for Oakland.

For the second straight game, Oakland’s defense played well in the red zone.

San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith passed the ball at will at times and the Raiders’ secondary looked susceptible to the big play. Smith completed 8 of 13 passes for 126 yards. The 49ers also ran the ball very well and had a 53-yard touchdown run.

The Raiders’ defense has a lot of talent, but it has to continue to work on cutting down the big plays.

Receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Denarius Moore both had two catches and played well. As did running back Michael Bush. Receiver Derek Hagan had three catches and he is making a push to make the final roster.

Linebacker Travis Goethel made several plays and don’t be surprised if he makes a push for serious playing time in the regular season.

UPDATE: The team is indicating that Campbell’s injury is not serious but he is going to take a concussion test.

Breaking down the Chiefs-Ravens

August, 20, 2011
Random thoughts from the Chiefs’ 31-13 loss at Baltimore on Friday night:

Kansas City was more interested in playing football than it was in a 25-0 loss to Tampa Bay last week. The Chiefs have been taking it slow in training camp because of the lockout and Kansas City coach Todd Haley treated the first preseason game like a training-camp day. Friday night, the Chiefs’ competed like they were actually in a game.

The score didn’t get out of hand until late when the Ravens -- who knocked Kansas City out of the playoffs then saw coach Jim Zorn and players Kelly Gregg, Le'Ron McClain and Jared Gaither join Kansas City this offseason -- scored three touchdowns in the final 7 minutes, 15 seconds of the game.

After the game, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said Haley was not pleased.

“I want to apologize to the Chiefs if they feel like we were not doing the right thing at the end of the game,” Harbaugh said. “That wasn’t the mindset, OK? The mindset was -- this is the preseason. If this had been the regular season, we would’ve been on a knee. The idea in that situation is to give those young guys who work hard and who are trying to make a football team -- this football team or another football team -- to play the whole 60 minutes and give them a chance to show what they can do. Offensive line, running backs, everybody.”

My thoughts? Do what you want, coach Harbaugh. Get your team ready the way you see fit. My solution for coaches who think the score is being run up on them has always been this: Stop the opponent from running up the score and the score won’t be run up on you.

Haley indicated he wasn’t bothered by the Ravens’ late scoring flurry.

“I just control what we do,” Haley said. “There are probably guys out on the field that may have had limited opportunity. Coaches get very limited opportunity to evaluate (players) so their coach has to do what he has to do to get his team ready just like I’m trying to do what we have to do to get ours ready.”

Anyway, Haley appeared pleased with his team’s overall effort.

“There were bright spots across the board with our team,” Haley said. “Defensively, it appeared we made progress in some areas. Offensively, I want to be fair to all the guys. We’re really working hard on the fundamentals of football. We’re not over-exotic right now. We’re not scheming to make plays. Sometimes that’s frustrating for all of us.”

Backup quarterback Tyler Palko played well. He executed a nice two-minute drill at the end of the first half, which resulted in a touchdown. If Palko keeps this up, the Chiefs might not look for a veteran to backup Matt Cassel.

For those expecting the Chiefs to bring clarity to the Jon Baldwin situation, think again. Haley only referred to it as “family business.” Baldwin reportedly got into a fight with veteran Thomas Jones and Baldwin hurt is wrist, putting him out for the preseason. There was a report that his thumb is a bigger issue than the wrist, but since the Chiefs aren’t talking, that can’t be confirmed at this point.

Cassel was 6-of-14 passing for 73 yards. Yet, he threw some nice passes and looked solid overall. He didn’t throw a pass in last week’s game.

Running back/receiver Dexter McCluster accounted for 71 yards of total offense on seven touches. He showed what a dynamic role player he can be.

Top receiver Dwayne Bowe had a nice game with three catches for 43 yards.

The Chiefs' offensive line needs to tighten up. Baltimore had five sacks.

Rookie pass-rusher Justin Houston had a nice game. He had two sacks and forced a fumble on special teams. This guy can play.