AFC West: Adam Schefter

Earlier Wednesday, we reacted to the Oakland Raiders' announcement that standout left tackle Jared Veldheer would be out for at least half the season with a torn triceps. The team said he could miss the entire season.

Our reaction was that this wasn’t pretty. Veldheer is a potential star, and his current replacement, Alex Barron, didn’t play in the NFL last year. It would be devastating blow.

However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter provides hope. He reported Wednesday evening that Veldheer has only a partially torn triceps and that physicians believe he will be available for most of the season.

While recovery times vary, this could be a one-to-three-month injury. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and San Francisco defensive end Justin Smith both came back from similar injuries last season.

If Veldheer, a free agent after this season, misses only a few games it would be a huge relief for Oakland. I talked to ESPN analyst Matt Williamson after the initial news broke, and he painted an ugly picture.

“It is a total mess,” Williamson said at the time. “I really liked Veldheer and felt like he was on the cusp of becoming one of the better left tackles in football and clearly one of the Raiders’ few building blocks for the future.”

Suddenly, though, the immediate future looks brighter for Veldheer and the Raiders.
Our ESPN experts’ Week 3 picks are in.

One pick stands out and alone. Adam Schefter is the only person on the panel to pick the 0-2 Oakland Raiders over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers.

It got me thinking. What does Schefter know? I reached out to him to get his thoughts. Here’s Schefter’s reasoning: “If the Raiders hadn't lost their long-snapper in the first game of the season, they would have beaten San Diego. Then we would be talking that the Raiders are tough at home. But they did lose their long snapper, they played a poor game after a late Monday night game going across the country for an early start, and now they're back home again. Pittsburgh has a bye week next week to look forward to, it's coming off a nice win off the Jets, and the one thing we know about this league is, it rarely holds to form. Plus, last week 14 of 16 home teams won. I know it's going out on a limb saying the Raiders will beat the Steelers. But it was going out on a limb last week to say the Cardinals would upset the Patriots, too.”

Sounds reasonable enough. I asked Schefter if he was surprised he was the Lone Ranger on the Oakland pick.

“It might just mean one game that everyone picks up on me,” Schefter said. “But it could mean I pick up a game on everyone, too. As they always say, that's why they play the game.”

Sunday evening we’ll know if Schefter was in to something or if the Raiders’ problems will continue.

Evening AFC West news and notes

January, 4, 2010
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that next Monday could be an important day for the future of Oakland coach Tom Cable and his staff.

Cable is expected to meet with Oakland owner Al Davis next Monday to talk about his future. There has been heavy media speculation Davis may be inclined to change coaches. Cable has expressed confidence he will return.

Cable is 9-19 as Oakland’s coach. Davis has a history of taking his time in determining futures of his coaches.
  • As expected, there is no such speculation in Kansas City. Coach Todd Haley is definitely coming back for a second season. There was some chatter that Haley could be in trouble. Haley ended the season on a high note with an offensive explosion in a game that knocked host Denver out of the playoffs Sunday.
Denver receiver Brandon Marshall did not practice Thursday. He suffered a hamstring injury Wednesday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday that Marshall will be available for Denver on Sunday against Kansas City.

Marshall has 101 catches this season. He is the obvious focal point of the offense. The team would have to dramatically adjust if he wasn’t available to play as Denver tries to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Other Denver offensive weapons, receiver Eddie Royal (neck/head) and tight end Daniel Graham (knee), were both limited Thursday. They didn’t practice Wednesday.
  • Kansas City cornerback Brandon Flowers practiced fully Thursday. He was limited with a shoulder injury Wednesday.
  • San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman (foot) and safety Eric Weddle (knee) did not practice. Receiver Vincent Jackson (achilles) was limited Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. Since the Chargers have already wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, it wouldn’t be a surprise if these players didn’t play Sunday against Washington.The Chargers received a 24-hour extension -- until Friday -- to sell out Sunday’s game. The Raiders will be blacked out locally for the seventh straight game.
Too bad the Broncos and the Chargers don’t play each other again this season. One of the nastiest rivalries in the NFL took another turn.

Denver coach Josh McDaniels took the time to defend himself and told his side of the story to ESPN regarding a dispute with San Diego linebacker Shaun Phillips.

McDaniels said Phillips approach him with a vulgar message prior to the Chargers’ 32-3 win at Denver, which gave them sole possession of first place in the AFC West. After the game, Phillips told reporters that McDaniels told some Chargers linebackers the Broncos “owned” the Chargers.

McDaniels told ESPN that he was referring to his New England days about the ownership of the Chargers when he responded to Phillips. Phillips has a reputation around the league for talking a lot on the field. It will be interesting to see if he has anything to say Sunday about McDaniels’ side of the story after the Chargers’ game with Kansas City. The Chargers have already declined comment, so it wouldn't be a surprise if Phillips is coy about McDaniels’ claim.

What does this all mean? Not much. It’s just trash talk. But its clear McDaniels felt that he needed to get his side of the story out after taking heat during the week. He was criticized by some people around the league after Phillips had his say.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting if Charlie Weis is fired by Notre Dame, as expected, he could resurface as an NFL offensive coordinator. The Chiefs have to be considered a natural possibility. Weis has history with general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley. Plus, the Chiefs have an opening at offensive coordinator.
Jon Runyan may be soon joining the San Diego Chargers for their playoff run.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the former longtime Philadelphia standout is on his way to visit the Chargers and he could sign with the team. Starter Jeromey Clary has an ankle injury that could sideline him the rest of the season.

Runyan appears to be a great fit for San Diego. The veteran likely wouldn’t take much time to get ready to play. Runyan visited with several teams this year, but he hasn’t found the right spot.

He would give the Chargers’ offensive line good stability. With center Nick Hardwick expected to return soon from an ankle injury that has kept him out since Week 1, the Chargers’ offensive line looks primed for the stretch run.

San Diego is 7-3 and leads the AFC West by one game after beating Denver on Sunday. The Chargers have won five straight games. Runyan has plenty of playoff experience, so the Chargers could do a lot worse than signing him with Clary out.
The Buffalo Bills' lightning-fast decision to reach out to Mike Shanahan reaffirms what we expected: The former Denver coach is going to be a hot commodity in the next couple of months.

It was obvious that Shanahan was going to be one of the most sought after coaches in a market full of big names. The report by Adam Schefter of ESPN that the Bills have already reached out to Shanahan shows how hot he will be.

Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl winner, was fired at the end of last season after 14 years in Denver. He has said he is looking forward to coaching in the NFL again in 2010. Shanahan will likely get his choice of jobs. With 15 teams currently under .500, there is bound to be several openings in the league in less than two months.

Just as Buffalo has, expect several other teams who might have an opening to contact Shanahan. That’s why you shouldn't expect Shanahan to jump at the Bills’ opportunity if an offer is made. He will likely have his choices of jobs.
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

Josh McDaniels has often said he has modeled his head-coaching career from the New England Patriots way.

Friday, he gave another example of how he lives life the Patriot Way.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting veteran cornerback Ty Law will sign a contract with the Denver Broncos. Law was with McDaniels in New England. McDaniels coached the defensive backs, and Law, in his early years in New England.

New England coach Bill Belichick always loved bring in veteran players and McDaniels is gearing up for the second half of the season by bringing in the savvy Law.

It remains to be seen how much Law can help. He hasn’t played all season and he is 35. But Law always takes good care of himself and he could help down the stretch.

Expect Law to play in nickel-and-dime defensive packages. With Law, Denver has an awesome leadership in the secondary to go along with cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Brian Dawkins.

AFC West mailbag

September, 30, 2009

Posted by’s Bill Williamson

Mid-week mail call:

Brian Heath from Seattle, Wa. wants to know if the Raiders continue to stumble could Jon Gruden become the coach of the team next year.

Bill Williamson: That is highly doubtful. Well, it’s not highly doubtful that Oakland could be looking for a coach next year. If the Raiders, 1-2, don’t improve (and I’m not declaring them dead yet) and they end up losing 11-12 games, it wouldn’t be beyond owner Al Davis to make a change. He isn’t afraid of change. We all know that. But I don’t see Gruden coming back to Oakland. Remember, he was available this year. When he was fired by Tampa Bay, Cable hadn’t been retained yet. So, if Gruden had any interest in returning to Oakland, it likely would have already happened.

Pete from New Mexico wants to know if Mike Nolan could get another chance of being a head coach if he continues to turn around the Broncos’ defense.

BW: Pete, I think he’d be a candidate if Denver continues to play great defense under Nolan. He is doing a spectacular job. The Denver defense has been horrible the past two years and the cupboard was bare when Josh McDaniels took over. The Denver secondary is now very talented, but the front seven isn’t overly loaded with talent. Still, Nolan’s 3-4 scheme has worked beautifully so far. Denver has allowed just 16 points in three games, which is the lowest point total allowed in the league. Nolan didn’t have much success as the head coach in San Francisco. But he is a quality football man and I would think executives and owners around the league will examine him for a potential opportunity if Denver’s defense stays a top-notch group.
Dan Wu wants to know if the Chiefs would trade receiver Dwayne Bowe.

BW: Dan, those rumors heated up after ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the Chiefs would likely move anyone but quarterback Matt Cassel and 2009 top pick Tyson Jackson, a defensive end. They were the first two big acquisitions of the new regime. I talked to Schefter and he said his point was that the Chiefs want to build with their own players. New general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley want to move forward with their own players. Bowe was inherited. So, if a team came to Kansas City with a big offer for Bowe, the Chiefs would likely listen. But Schefter made it clear he is not saying the Chiefs are shopping Bowe, who is the team’s best receiver.

AFC West news and notes

September, 29, 2009

Posted by’s Bill Williamson

  • Former Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon reacts to his rift with the Raiders.
  • Speaking of the Raiders, coach Tom Cable says his team is close to getting it together. I understand that Cable believes in staying positive. But we’ve heard this talk ever since he took over in Oakland. Coach, just show us, please. Sunday’s game at Houston is Cable’s 16th game as Oakland’s head coach, which equals a full season's worth. The Raiders are 5-10 under Cable. Again, show us the improvement and please stop telling us it is on the way.
  • Lost in the report that Oakland defensive assistant Randy Hanson told police that Cable broke his jaw is the fact that Hanson’s attorney said that Oakland defensive backs have sought out Hanson for advice since he has been kept away from the team. It that is the case, it is another example of dysfunction in Oakland.
  • Denver has allowed just 16 points in the first three games, which is one of the best starts in NFL history.
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on "SportsCenter" Tuesday that Dallas running back Felix Jones will likely miss the game against Denver on Sunday.
  • The Chargers believe they are going to get rookie guard Louis Vasquez back on the field this week after he missed two games with a knee injury.
  • The Chargers are suing former linebacker Steve Foley for owed bonus money.
  • Oakland tackle Cornell Green is tied for the league lead with three false starts this season.

Posted by’s Bill Williamson

The Raiders are going to give JaMarcus Russell some more pre-season action. He is expected to play a series or two Thursday night in the preseason finale at Seattle.

Usually, starting quarterbacks don’t play in the final preseason game. However, Russell could use the extra work and having him play a series or two isn’t putting his health at too much of a risk. It’s not a bad idea by Oakland coach Tom Cable.

In Denver, Broncos rookie running back Knowshon Moreno could play some Thursday night. Moreno has practiced and played very little because of a contract holdout and a knee injury. Moreno is going to play a lot in the season opener at Cincinnati, but the team might want to give him a couple of extra preseason snaps Thursday even though it is risky.

Minnesota coach Brad Childress stuck up for his running back, Adrian Peterson. Childress said he believes Peterson is the best player in the league. Childress was responding to comments in which San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson said he believes he’s still the best running back in the NFL.

What do you expect the future Hall of Famer to say? That’s he’s done? That’s not going to happen.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Denver could potentially be enticed to deal receiver Brandon Marshall to the Jets if the New York were to throw in a player like linebacker David Harris along with a draft pick. That’s interesting. The previous Denver regime loved Harris when he came out of Michigan in the 2007 draft. The Jets took him in the second round.

AFC West news and notes

September, 2, 2009

Posted by’s Bill Williamson

  • San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson has taken a stand. He believes he’s still the best running back in the NFL. Tomlinson is running with a chip on his shoulder as he turns 30 and is coming off his least productive NFL season.
  • Perhaps the fact that Brodie Croyle is starting the final preseason game means Croyle, not Tyler Thigpen, is in line to start if Matt Cassel’s knee isn’t ready in time for the Chiefs’ Sept. 13 opener at Baltimore.
  • There is chatter that Pittsburgh could bounce defensive lineman Casey Hampton. If that’s the case, I would expect both Kansas City and Denver (who are both transiting to the 3-4 defense) to take a look at the massive Hampton.
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that the Eagles are shopping receivers Hank Baskett and Reggie Brown. Perhaps an AFC West team will take a look. Kansas City, Oakland and Denver all may be looking to upgrade in that area.
Posted by's Bill Williamson

This has been coming long before the MarshallGate tapes were released.

The video tape was simply the final straw. It was public excuse for the Denver Broncos to drop the hammer on Brandon Marshall.

Who could argue with the team's decision to suspend the Pro Bowl perceiver for conduct detrimental to the club? Who would want this guy on the field after watching his antics in practice Wednesday?

Marshall was filmed walking while his teammates were running, he punted a ball instead of handing it to a team employee and he swatted away a pass during a catching drill. The guy was making a joke out of an NFL practice.

If he pulled this type of move in a Pop Warner practice, the coaches would have yanked him and that's what the Broncos did.

ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Marshall will be suspended through the preseason and he could be reinstated by the team in time for the Broncos' Sept. 13 season opener at Cincinnati if his behavior improves.

Denver's decision to suspend Marshall is about a lot more than damaging videotape.

Marshall has been heading toward a suspension for more than a week. Marshall returned to Denver, after an Aug. 14 acquittal in an Atlanta misdemeanor battery trial. Marshall had a meeting with team officials during his first day back at the facility and reportedly asked for a pay raise and reiterated his desire to be traded. After the requests were rebuffed, Marshall was reportedly disengaged at practice on Aug. 19.

Marshall then told media he didn't know Josh McDaniels' playbook yet and that's why he was running with the scout team. Still, Marshall was running McDaniels' plays fine earlier in camp. Then, he wasn't brought to Seattle for a preseason game last weekend.

Marshall has taken every misguided step possible in this process. He thought he was in control. The Broncos showed him he is not. Now, Marshall looks ridiculous. He looks silly to every other NFL team as well. Who would give a first-round pick plus a mid-round pick (Denver’s asking price) for a player who disrupts practice, has a history of off-field issues and wants to become one of the highest paid receivers in the game?

I don't see a lot of teams lining up. Do you?

The Broncos would trade Marshall if they got the right price, but the team is fine with having Marshall sit.

The Broncos stumbled with the Jay Cutler situation. But this is not similar to the Cutler situation. Marshall is completely at fault and the Broncos are handling it the right way. They are showing the other players in the locker room that such buffoonery will not be tolerated. The Broncos are taking control of the locker room with this move.

Really, this is not the worst thing in the world for Marshall. He has two weeks to get his act together. NFL players are paid in the regular season, so he is not going to lose much money if he reforms and returns in time for the season opener.

Perhaps this is one last chance given to Marshall by the Broncos. Still, Denver will not hesitate to extend the suspension if Marshall continues to act out.
Posted by's Bill Williamson

ESPN's Adam Schefter said on "SportsCenter" Wednesday that the Chiefs are shopping backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen.


It makes plenty of sense to me. Thigpen is clearly not in the new regime's plans in Kansas City. Yet, he has experience and talent. He could fit in, certainly as a backup elsewhere.

I think a trade would be best for the Chiefs and for Thigpen. There doesn't appear to be any room for him.

Brodie Croyle has played well and the new coaching staff likes him. He seems like he's locked in as the backup to Matt Cassel. The Chiefs claimed quarterback Matt Gutierrez off waivers from New England. Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli had Gutierrez in New England and Gutierrez has been given a long look since being claimed. He appears to have the inside track to be the No. 3 quarterback.

Then there's Thigpen who appears to be on the outside looking in.

Still, Thigpen could be a solid No. 2 quarterback in several cities.

Yes, he is more comfortable in a spread, shotgun offense, but he has skills. Former Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez raved about Thigpen last year. If Kansas City doesn't want him, it should pursue a trade. They can perhaps get a fourth-round to sixth-round pick for him.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Adam Schefter, who will be joining ESPN next month, reported via his Twitter account that the Raiders have agreed to terms with top pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was the seventh overall selection in April's draft.

Heyward-Bey could be on the field when the Raiders open training camp later Thursday morning. This is good news for both the Raiders and Heyward-Bey. The speedster from Maryland, whose selection was roundly criticized on draft day, needs to work on his consistency.

Thus, getting him into camp on time was critical. The Raiders and Heyward-Bey should be applauded for recognizing that. I will be at Raiders practice Thursday and I will report on Heyward-Bey's first day if he is in attendance.

Heyward-Bey was the first of five first-round picks in the AFC West to sign. Oakland has its entire draft class under contract. There are six remaining unsigned draft picks in the AFC West.