AFC West: Ashley Lelie

Posted by’s Bill Williamson

The Kansas City Chiefs latest search for a productive veteran wide receiver began in San Diego on Monday.

The Chargers surprised the league by cutting veteran receiver Chris Chambers, one day after he was demoted as a starter after a sluggish start to the season. Because of a healthy contract, Chambers, 31, was only expected to garner waiver interest from a contender. But the odds were on him becoming a free agent.

Yet, Kansas City, near the top of the waiver priority list thanks to their 1-6 record, jumped at the chance to add Chambers. Looking at the recent history of the Chiefs, it's not a surprise the team added Chambers, who until a year or so ago was considered one of the better possession receivers in the league.

Under new general manager Scott Pioli and new coach Todd Haley, the team has marched several veteran receivers into town, including Amani Toomer, Ashley Lelie, Bobby Engram and Bobby Wade, in recent months. Only Wade and Engram remain on the roster.

Chambers is probably the best of Kansas City’s veteran receiver additions. While he has lost speed, he should be decent No. 2 receiver to Dwayne Bowe and give quarterback Matt Cassel some much-needed help.

A change of scenery from San Diego could serve Chambers well. Chambers believes he may have been cut partly because of a personal issue. If he can regain some of his ability, this will be a good move for the Chiefs. At the very least, he’ll be in the Chiefs’ rotation.

The Chargers also will benefit from Kansas City claiming Chambers, who’ll be a free agent at the end of the season. The Chiefs have taken on the remaining portion of Chambers’ $4.55 million salary by claiming him. San Diego would have been on the hook for the salary had Chambers not been claimed.

AFC West news and notes

September, 5, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

Some late cut-day thoughts:

I was a tad surprised that Kansas City cut receiver Ashley Lelie. He performed well in a short period in Kansas City and the Chiefs don’t have much else at receiver.

Raiders coach Tom Cable said Chris Morris could start at center against San Diego on Sept. 14, which would make Samsom Satele a bench player. Satele was expected to be an upgrade at center for the Raiders when they traded for him in the spring. He hasn’t emerged.

Just wondering out loud: Could Denver give Jeff Garcia a call? With starter Kyle Orton (finger) and backup Chris Simms (ankle) hurting for the season opener in Cincinnati, Garcia is a proven starter whose now available. Do I think it will happen? Not really, but you never know.

I’d expect the Chiefs try to place running back JaVarris Williams on the practice squad.

The Jaguars were linked to Chiefs’ backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen in trade talks. On Saturday, Jacksonville acquired Luke McCown from Tampa Bay. Thigpen became unavailable when Chiefs’ starter Matt Cassel went down last week with a knee injury. Cassel will try to play next week at Baltimore.

Posted by’s Bill Williamson

The Chiefs’ cut down to the league mandated 75-man roster Tuesday couldn’t have been any more newsworthy.

Usually, the cut down from 80 to 75 is filled with no-name free agents. Not the Chiefs’ list.

Kansas City cut veteran receiver Amani Toomer and defensive end Alfonso Boone. Toomer was signed in early August and Boone has been with the Chiefs the past two years and he was working with the first team defensive line at times this summer.

Kansas City also put receiver Devard Darling on the injured reserve after he suffered a serious knee injury Saturday against Seattle. Running back Kolby Smith was put on the reserve physically unable to perform list. He can be activated later in the season.

Rookie tackle Cameron Goldberg was also released. But he’s not the story Tuesday.

Toomer, a former standout for the Giants, was signed to bring leadership and maybe create a spark at receiver. Yet, by all accounts, he offered little on the field, so the Chiefs quickly ended that experiment.

His career is probably over. If the receiver-hungry Chiefs don't have room for Toomer, who'll turn 35 next week, not many teams likely will.

Boone’s release means the Chiefs must feel like their youngsters on the defensive front are ready to carry the load. Young players Tyson Jackson. Glenn Dorsey and Alex Magee are all going to play a lot.

Darling was going to be in the receiving rotation. The Chiefs were planning on scouring the waiver wire and free-agent list after the final 53-man rosters are announced and this will only make that a certainty. It looks like the newly-signed Ashley Lelie has a strong chance of making the team.

AFC West mailbag

August, 30, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Lance from Wichita, Kan., wants to know what kind of role does Denver owner Pat Bowlen play in the Brandon Marshall situation.

Bill Williamson: It depends on who you believe, Lance. Marshall has maintained that Bowlen told him the team would try to trade him back in June. The Broncos deny that. But it really isn't the issue. This thing is beyond Bowlen. I really think Bowlen could have done a better job in the Jay Cutler saga. Yes, I know the Broncos say Cutler didn't return Bowlen's calls. But he could have intervened early. He could have forced Cutler and new coach Josh McDaniels to mend fences. The Marshall deal is about money and Marshall's unhappiness. I really don't pin this one on the owner.

Reggie A. Gamble from Rockledge, Fla., wants to know if the Chiefs will make any moves at receiver.

BW: Yes, I expect the Chiefs to add to their receiving crew. Coach Todd Haley all but said he would look for help when teams make their final cuts Sept. 5. The Chiefs already brought in veteran receivers Amani Toomer and Ashley Lelie since training camp began. The Chiefs have the third highest priority on the waiver wire in the league so expect them to be able to help the bottom of their receiving rotation before the first week of the season.

David from Akron, Ohio, wants to know what kind of season can be expected from Denver second-year receiver Eddie Royal.

BW: Royal has looked fantastic in McDaniels' offense. He can play several different positions. Expect Royal, who had 91 receptions as a rookie, to have a monster year. McDaniels can't wait to unleash him. Don't be surprised if Royal plays a Wes Welker-like role in Denver. Welker was a slot receiver for McDaniels in New England. And if the Marshall saga continues, Royal will have an even bigger role in Denver's offense.

Breaking down the Chiefs' game

August, 30, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

A look at the Chiefs' 14-10 loss to visiting Seattle:

The Chiefs didn't say what Matt Cassel's injury was other than he has a leg injury. It's believed that Cassel has a knee injury that is not overly serious. He departed after being sacked on the third play of the game and he did not return. The Chiefs are expected to next address Cassel's situation Monday. The Chiefs start the season in 14 days at Baltimore.

Cassel was brought to Kansas City for stability at the position after the Chiefs saw two quarterbacks do down with injuries last season.

Cassel's injury Saturday night was another indication of how the team needs much better offensive line play. This unit is a liability, and Cassel, when he returns, is going to have to deal with playing under constant pressure.

The Chiefs have to find a way to protect the quarterback better or the injuries are going to pile up.

With Tyler Thigpen replacing Cassel, it makes you wonder if the team will still consider trading him if Cassel is going to miss any time.

Matt Gutierrez, who is competing with Thigpen to be the No. 3 quarterback, completed 10 of 13 passes. Brodie Croyle didn't play Saturday night because the Chiefs wanted to get Thigpen and Gutierrez more playing time, but Croyle still appears to be the choice as the No. 2 quarterback.

The Chiefs were terrible on third down, converting just 1 of 10 opportunities.

Top pick Tyson Jackson was terrific and showed his play-making ability.

Newly signed receiver Ashley Lelie showed a spark and he had 52 yards on four catches. Lelie has some ability and the Chiefs need receivers, so he may have a chance of making an impact.

In addition to Cassel, standout cornerback Brandon Flowers and receiver Devard Darling were injured. There injuries are not known.

Rookie kicker Ryan Succop has been good, but he missed a 27-yard field goal Saturday night.

  G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
  Todd Haley, the new coach for Kansas City, has made his players feel his presence during the offseason and training camp.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

RIVER FALLS, Wis. --- The Kansas City Chiefs are tired.

And they should be.

Camp Haley has been no pleasure cruise.

The Chiefs, who break camp Thursday, have undergone a harsh transition from the cushy Herm Edwards days to the no-breaks, harsh methods of new coach Todd Haley. Mimicking new general manager Scott Pioli's humorless ways, Haley has not been easy on his troops.

Camp Confidential: AFC West
Raiders: Fri., July 31
Chargers: Tues., Aug. 4
Broncos: Wed., Aug. 12
Chiefs: Thurs., Aug. 20
Training camp index

It's all about making the Chiefs -- who have won a total of six games the past two years -- "hard to beat," Haley said.

"I think this camp had to be tough," Haley said Wednesday. "We need a mental toughness .... I've been on teams that have turned it around and each of those teams needed to get tougher."

In the offseason, Haley stressed conditioning and made his team lose weight. Then, he held a conditioning test before the start of camp. Several well-known players didn't pass, thus delaying their camp starting date. Camp practices in this idyllic Wisconsin college town have been long and hard-hitting.

Haley is often heard barking his displeasure at his team and often his media briefings smack of an unsatisfied coach.

Further getting everyone's attention, Haley broke down standout receiver Dwayne Bowe. The team's best receiver was made a third stringer. But the tough love has worked. Bowe has responded and it's been a lesson learned for the entire team.

Haley knows he has a lot of work to do with this team. The Chiefs are being reconstructed. Haley knows it's not going to be easy, but he's bent on making it work.

"I've seen good progress," Haley said. "This team is much tougher than it was a few months ago. But we have to keep on improving."

(Read full post)

Chiefs sign WR Lelie

August, 17, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

The Chiefs are apparently still looking for the right mix at receiver.

Kansas City signed receiver Ashley Lelie on Monday. The speedster will compete for a backup role. This is his third stop in the AFC West. He previously played with Denver and Oakland.

Two weeks ago, Kansas City signed veteran receiver Amani Toomer. Both veterans could be in the rotation during the regular season.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Denver is close to signing linebacker Nick Greisen. He was one of several linebackers to work out for the team Tuesday. Greisen fits in the 3-4 defense Denver is adopting. He was a capable role player for Baltimore and he is expected to be a key reserve in Denver if a deal is finalized.

Denver signed undrafted college free agent linebackers Braxton Kelley of Kentucky and Jeff Schweiger of San Jose State. Denver has now signed 17 college free agents. Denver, meanwhile, released Adam Bergen and receiver Jayson Foster.

Oakland signed some more college free agents.

Oakland free agent receiver Ashley Lelie visited the Steelers.

In his typical classy manner, Tony Gonzalez departed Kansas City gracefully. Holding his own press conference, Gonzalez thanked Chiefs fans after a 12-season stay. He said he will retire as a Chief and enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, if elected, as a Chief. Kansas City traded Gonzalez to Atlanta last week.

Back to school

February, 17, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Several players from the AFC West or who have retired from the AFC West are enrolled in the league's popular NFL business management and entrepreneurial program.

The annual initiative will be held at the Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University), Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The program began in 2005 and 407 players have taken advantage of it. The programs are run in four-day increments and will run from February through April.

Here are the players participating this year with AFC West ties:

Denver: Safety Herana-Daze Jones, offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus, safety John Lynch, receiver Ed McCaffrey.

Kansas City: Safety Jon McGraw, running back Kolby Smith.

Oakland: Linebacker Ricky Brown, receiver Ashley Lelie, quarterback Andrew Walter.

San Diego: Center Nick Hardwick, tight end Kris Wilson.

AFC West news and notes

December, 17, 2008

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Because of injuries to receivers Ronald Curry and Ashley Lelie, tailback Darren McFadden could get more action Sunday against Houston.

With all due respect to Curry and Lelie, McFadden needs to get on the field. There are just two more games to this season and the No. 4 overall pick has been horribly underused. Oakland needs to see what it has in McFadden and this is a chance for him to get some more playing time.

The Broncos made some moves Wednesday. They signed safety Herana-Daze Jones a week after he was released. They put running back Cory Boyd on the practice squad. He was cut Monday. To make room for Boyd, running back Steve Baylark was released from the practice squad.

The Broncos and the Chargers will likely be facing their opponents' top quarterback in their crucial games Sunday. Trent Edwards is set to play in Denver for Buffalo. And it appears Jeff Garcia will be healthy enough to play for Tampa Bay when it hosts San Diego on Sunday.

The Chiefs appear like they will return to Missouri for training camp in 2010. The team has been training in River Falls, Wis., for nearly two decades. It is expected that next year will be the team's final summer in River Falls.

Raiders, Chargers injury report

December, 3, 2008

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Here is an injury update for the Raiders and the Chargers. The two teams play Thursday night in San Diego.

In Oakland, center Jake Grove (calf) and linebacker Ricky Brown (groin) have both been ruled out for the game. Receivers Ronald Curry and Ashley Lelie are both listed as questionable. Curry has a nagging ankle injury. He was limited in practice Wednesday after not practicing on Monday and Tuesday. Lelie has a headache that kept him out of practice Tuesday and Wednesday.

In San Diego, starting fullback Mike Tolbert is doubtful with a shoulder injury. He didn't play Sunday against Atlanta because of the injury. He was replaced by fellow rookie Jacob Hester. Backup linebacker Marques Harris is also doubtful with a hamstring injury. Starting safety Clinton Hart is listed a questionable. He practiced on a limited basis Wednesday after he didn't practice Tuesday.

Raiders, Chargers injury update

December, 2, 2008

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Here is an injury report from Oakland and San Diego. The two teams play in San Diego on Thursday:

In Oakland, four players didn't practice. Linebacker Ricky Brown was out with a groin injury as was receiver Ronald Curry. He has an ankle injury. Center Jake Grove was out with a calf injury. All three of those players didn't practice Monday, either. Receiver Ashley Lelie was out Tuesday with a headache. He practiced Monday.

Defensive end Kalimba Edwards, who has a team-high five sacks, was limited in practice both Monday and Tuesday with a hip injury.

In San Diego, four players didn't practice. Safety Clinton Hart didn't practice with a shoulder injury he suffered Sunday against Atlanta. He did practice Monday. Defensive tackle Jamal Williams didn't practice Tuesday but it was not injury related, the team said. Backup linebacker Marques Harris and fullback Mike Tolbert didn't practice Tuesday, either. Tolbert missed the Atlanta game and he was spelled by fellow rookie Jacob Hester.

AFC West honors

November, 24, 2008
Posted by's Bill Williamson

It was easy choosing the team our Week 12 AFC West player of the week is coming from: It has to be Oakland, which pulled off the upset in Denver on Sunday.

The 3-8 Raiders, who believe it or not, are a game behind the Chargers in the AFC West. They were the only team in the division to win on Sunday.

The difficult part was choosing the player. There was Justin Fargas who ran for more than 100 yards; there was former Bronco Ashley Lelie who made some big catches. But we decided, in the end, to give the honor to quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Russell was a study in efficiency even though he didn't pass much. Oakland clearly was planning to run the ball against Denver, but Russell made plays when he needed to. He completed 10 of 11 passes for 152 yards and he had a touchdown.

Russell didn't make many mistakes. That's what Oakland needs him to do. Let's face it; Russell will need to throw more than 11 times to win consistently. But this was a good experience for Russell, who has struggled much of this season.

Russell isn't out of the woods yet, but he has some skills and he showed it Sunday when given the chance. For that he's being honored.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Don't be surprised if Javon Walker never plays for the Oakland Raiders again.


Walker told reporters Thursday afternoon that he will be out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Thus ends a miserable year for the player Oakland gave a six-year, $55 million deal in March.

Walker, who was cut by Denver in February after an injury-riddled season, was robbed and beaten in Las Vegas in June. In August, he had to be talked out of taking a year's leave of absence, he said, by the team. He was routinely criticized by former coach Lane Kiffin.

Walker, who was brought to Oakland to be a No. 1 receiver, never seemed comfortable in Oakland. He finishes the season with 15 catches for 196 yards and one touchdown.

This is the third time in four seasons that Walker's season has been severely altered by injuries. Unless Walker takes a huge pay cut, Oakland will likely be inclined to part ways with him in the offseason. The Raiders cut ties with cornerback DeAngelo Hall, another high-priced 2008 addition, last week.

Wide receiver will be at the top of Oakland's priority list again next season. The Raiders (2-7) will likely seriously consider taking a receiver in the draft, possibly Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree -- if he leaves school early.

In the meantime, Oakland will probably go with Ashley Lelie, signed just before the start of the season, to take Walker's place. Displaced starter Ronald Curry could potentially also get a chance.

In reality, Oakland is simply replacing a top receiver in theory. Walker never produced this season, so replacing him won't be a tall order.

AFC West injury update

November, 12, 2008

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Here is an AFC West injury update where Oakland is hopeful quarterback JaMarcus Russell will be back on the field Sunday:

Denver: There weren't many surprises for Denver, which has 11 players on injured reserve -- the second-highest total in the NFL. The only fairly interesting tidbit is star left cornerback Champ Bailey wasn't listed as "out" for the game as were fellow starters Marlon McCree, Nate Webster and D.J. Williams. Bailey was listed as "did not participate." That does not close the door on him playing for the first time since Oct. 20 when he suffered a groin injury.

At this point, it would be a surprise if Bailey played Sunday at Atlanta. More than likely, undrafted rookie Josh Bell and Karl Paymah will vie for playing time at left cornerback. Running back Selvin Young didn't practice with a groin injury that has been bothering him for nearly six weeks. He is likely a long shot to play at Atlanta.

Oakland: Raiders coach Tom Cable is hopeful Russell, running back Darren McFadden and defensive end Derrick Burgess can play Sunday at Miami.

Russell didn't play against Carolina because of tendonitis in his knee. McFadden has been out for the past three games with turf toe injuries on both feet, and Burgess has missed the past five games with a triceps injury. The return of these three players would help Oakland try to break its three-game losing streak. Receiver Javon Walker is doubtful with an ankle injury and Ashley Lelie is set to start for him.

San Diego: Cornerback Cletis Gordon didn't practice with a knee injury and he'll likely be out 2-3 weeks. Gordon started against Kansas City for Antonio Cromartie who played despite having a hip injury. Cromartie wasn't on the participation report Wednesday and he is expected to start at Pittsburgh. Rookie Antoine Cason will continue to play in the nickel. However, the Chargers didn't use the nickel defense much against Kansas City.