AFC West: 2012 NFL preseason Week 4



A look at the Broncos’ 16-13 victory Thursday night at Arizona:

It was a night for the backups for the Broncos in a game that Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt decided to tie with a short, final-minute field goal instead of going for it and ending the misery of a fourth preseason game. Really, coach?

However, Denver kicker Matt Prater saved the world from preseason overtime by hitting a 44-yard field goal at the end of regulation to give the Broncos the win.

Nice night for rookie cornerback Omar Bolden. He took a kick return 103 yards for a touchdown in the town where he had to sit out last season at Arizona State due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Bolden looks like a keeper.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler, Denver's second-round pick and also a Sun Devils product, was 3-of-6 passing for 36 yards, tossing an interception as he returned to Phoenix. Expect Osweiler to be the No. 3 quarterback this season. He is very much a developmental player.

Ronnie Hillman had a nice night with 68 yards on 14 carries. He will play a lot when it counts.

Tight end Virgil Green had two catches for 45 yards. He now faces a four-game NFL suspension for using a banned substance.

Tight end Julius Thomas, a fourth-round pick in 2011, didn’t have a catch. I wonder if he makes the 53-man roster Friday.

Even though it was a backup show, Denver’s run defense was much improved in this game.

Defensive tackle Ben Garland had a sack. It will be interesting to see if Garland, a team favorite, makes the final roster. He’s probably headed to the practice squad.

Former first-round pick Knowshon Moreno completed a strong preseason with 49 yards on seven carries. There has been talk that he could be cut or traded, but if the Denver brass thinks Moreno can help this team, it will likely keep him.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan, a sixth-round pick, had seven tackles in the first half. I could see him making a serious playing-time push soon at a position the Broncos are looking for a spark.

Veteran safety Jim Leonhard started. He has been injured, so the Broncos wanted to get a good look at him.

Undrafted rookie linebacker Steven Johnson had another solid game. He is on the bubble, but I have a feeling the Broncos might be tempted to keep a promising player at a need position.

Observation deck: Chargers-49ers

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
1:46
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A look at the Chargers’ 35-3 road loss Thursday night:

After being held out last week because of injuries on his offensive line, the Chargers gave quarterback Philip Rivers some late-preseason work. The interception bug hit him again.

Rivers’ night ended with poor red-zone decisions on a ball that was intercepted. Rivers threw four interceptions this summer after being picked off 20 times last season. Thursday’s interception was just a pass Rivers should not have thrown.

It is a worry? Kind of, yes.

Look, preseason mistakes are just that, and Rivers is a fine player. He has thrown the ball well in the preseason. He completed 8 of 10 passes Thursday and he was 24-of-30 this preseason (yes, only two passes Rivers threw in the preseason were not caught). But he has to get out of this interception rut when the season starts.

Rookie defensive lineman Kendall Reyes looked good once again. I expect him to make an instant impact.

Nose tackle Cam Thomas looked good and should play a lot as well.

Watch for the Chargers to look for cornerback help on the waiver wire. They are banged up and their reserves were not good Thursday. The 49ers passed all over the Chargers.

Last year, while with the Chargers, quarterback Scott Tolzien performed well against the 49ers. So well, in fact, the 49ers claimed him when the Chargers cut him. Thursday night, Tolzein might have lost his roster spot when Josh Johnson had a great game for the 49ers. Would the Chargers be tempted to sign Tolzien either as a replacement for Jarrett Lee or as a practice-squader regardless if Lee is kept on the 53-man roster?

Linebacker Bront Bird finished strong and has a chance to make the team when the 53-man roster is finalized Friday.

Unless there is a shocking change of heart, kicker Nate Kaeding makes the team and Nick Novak gets cut.
A look at the Raiders’ 21-3 road loss Thursday night:

It was a night for the backups for the Raiders and it looked like it.

The Raiders weren’t very good, but not many of these players will even be factors in the regular season. But it shows the biggest problem this team has -- depth.

Backup running back Mike Goodson had 26 yards on eight carries and Taiwan Jones added 12 yards on seven carries. I’ll say it once again: Oakland needs another backup running back behind Darren McFadden for depth purposes.

Terrelle Pryor wasn’t as dynamic against Seattle as he was against Detroit last week. After playing like a star late in that previous outing, Pryor wasn’t overly productive Thursday. That’s OK. He is a project. Sure, we might see some Pryor packages this season, but he is still a developing player.

Seattle ran and passed at will against an Oakland defense that was pretty strong in the preseason.

Rookie linebacker Nathan Stupar had a big night and should make the team when the roster is trimmed to 53 players Friday.

Newly signed punt returner Roscoe Parrish fumbled twice. I could see Parrish, cut by San Diego on Monday, getting the axe. Cornerback Coye Francies, claimed this week, also fumbled a punt. He could easily get cut Friday as well. If so, Oakland could look for a punt returner because of injuries. Punt returners are easy to find on the waiver wire. It could keep Bryan McCann as well. He had a nice game as a returner and a cornerback Thursday.

Observation deck: Chiefs-Packers

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
11:50
PM ET
A look at the Chiefs’ 24-3 loss at Green Bay:

If I owned an NFL team, I don’t think I’d meddle much. But I’d have one mandate: Do not play starters in the fourth preseason game.

That used to be a universal feeling in the NFL. But in recent years, teams have seemed to use starter some in the final preseason game.

Frankly, it is unnecessary and way too risky. And yes, it may have just bitten the Kansas City Chiefs. Again.

Last year, in the preseason finale, standout tight end Tony Moeaki suffered a season-ending knee injury. Thursday night, the Kansas City Star reported star linebacker Derrick Johnson may have suffered a significant ankle injury. Wow. Even if it is a minor ankle injury, Johnson may not be ready for Week 1 against Atlanta.

What a waste. Johnson didn’t need to play in this game.

Now, there is a chance the Chiefs could be without Johnson, cornerback Brandon Flowers and Kendrick Lewis (they are both injured) and linebacker Tamba Hali serving a one-game NFL suspension) in that game. Good luck, Chiefs.

For a team that was hoping to bounce back from an injury-riddled season in 2011, it seems like Kansas City, is at least, starting the 2012 season with injury issues.

It doesn’t stop on defense. The Kansas City Star reports backup quarterback Brady Quinn could have a significant injury as well. Quinn just beat out Ricky Stanzi for the backup job. If Quinn is going to miss major time, I’d think the Chiefs would pursue a backup quarterback. One option could be David Garrard, if he doesn’t make the Dolphins’ roster.

UPDATE: Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said after the game none of the injuries seem serious at this point.

The Chiefs’ first-team offense and defense played sparingly and led the Packers’ starters after the first quarter.

The Packers led 14-3 at the half, so their backups are probably a little further ahead of the Chiefs’ reserves. No biggie.

Kansas City running back Peyton Hillis highlighted the starting lineups as he rumbled for 46 yards on six carries. Hillis looks ready for the start of the season.

Running back Nate Eachus made a great final push for a roster spot with 99 yards on 21 carries. He was terrific all summer. As a team, Kansas City ran well with 247 yards.

Cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Jacques Reeves stayed on the field after the rest of the Kansas City starting defenders left. Reeves could play extensively in Week 1 if Flowers and Jalil Brown are still injured.

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