AFC West: Ben Hamilton

Denver and Kansas City updates

April, 20, 2010
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ESPN’s John Clayton is reporting that former Denver guard Ben Hamilton has signed with the Seattle Seahawks.

Hamilton visited the Seahawks earlier this offseason. Denver had no interest in bringing back Hamilton because it is looking for bigger interior offensive linemen. Denver is moving from a zone blocking scheme to a more traditional, power-blocking scheme. Hamilton, who has been with Denver since 2001, lost his starting job last season.

In Seattle, he reunites with former Denver coaches Alex Gibbs and Jeremy Bates.

In Kansas City, restricted free agent Corey Mays signed his tender and is now under contract. Mays started 14 games last season.
Denver signed Miami nickel cornerback Nathan Jones on Friday evening. He has three interceptions in six NFL seasons.

This may be a sign that second-year player Alphonso Smith may not be completley ready to contribute. Smith was replaced by undrafted free agent Tony Carter late last season. Denver gave up its 2010 No. 1 pick (No. 14 overall) to Seattle to draft Smith at No. 37 last year.

  • Kansas City re-signed backup running back Jackie Battle. He played in 17 games the past three seasons for the Chiefs.
  • Here is a chance to keep up with all the free- agency movement on ESPN.com.
  • Oakland brought back left tackle Khalif Barnes. He was hurt last year, his first in Oakland. If he stays healthy, he could vie for playing time.
  • Oakland hired Kevin Ross to work with the secondary. He replaces Clancy Pendergast, who quit Oakland two weeks after he took over as the defensive coordinator at Cal.
  • Detroit cut massive defensive tackle Grady Jackson. Jackson, 37, could interest both Oakland and San Diego. He could fit both the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

Denver keeps two of its own

March, 5, 2010
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Expect Denver to be busy in the first couple of days of free agency as it was last year.

The team is expected to pursue several interior linemen on both sides of the ball. Yet, the Broncos’ first free agency moves were to keep two of their own free agents.

Denver announced it has re-signed guard Russ Hochstein and receiver Brandon Lloyd.

Hochstein took over for Ben Hamilton last year but he suffered a knee injury late last season. He is expected to be ready around training camp in late July.

Lloyd is a bottom-of-the-roster role player. He played in two games last year with Denver. He could have trouble making the 53-man roster if, as expected, Denver adds to the receiver position.

AFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
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Denver

Potential unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd

Potential restricted free agents: LB Elvis Dumervil, OL Chris Kuper, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Kyle Orton, TE Tony Scheffler, DT Le Kevin Smith

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Broncos’ restricted class is talented. That will be the focus. It has been reported that Marshall, Orton, Dumervil, Scheffler and Kuper will all get one-year tenders. Marshall very well could be traded. It wouldn’t be a shock if Dumervil gets some action on the restricted market. Miami could be interested.

Kansas City

Potential unrestricted free agents: OL Andy Alleman, S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade

Potential restricted free agents: RB Jackie Battle, QB Brodie Croyle, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Corey Mays, OL Ikechuku Ndukwe, OL Rudy Niswanger, OL Ryan O'Callaghan, S Jarrad Page

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Chiefs are interested in keeping some of their unrestricted free agents. General manager Scott Pioli said at the combine the team has been in contact with several of their free agents. Chambers is the focus. The team is trying to keep him. Brown and Vrabel could also return with new deals.

Oakland

Potential unrestricted free agents: S Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Potential restricted free agents: LB Jon Alston, OL Khalif Barnes, LB Ricky Brown, LB Jon Condo, QB Charlie Frye, QB Bruce Gradkowski, LB Thomas Howard, RB Luke Lawton, OL Chris Morris, LB Kirk Morrison, CB Stanford Routt, RB Gary Russell

Franchise player: DE Richard Seymour.

What to expect: The Raiders franchised Seymour and signed kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a record deal, so they’ve already been busy. It will be interesting to see how they tender Howard and Morrison. The Raiders could use some new life at linebacker and this could be the start of it.

San Diego

Potential unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Potential restricted free agents: OL Jeromey Clary, LB Tim Dobbins, WR Malcom Floyd, DT Antonio Garay, OL Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Marques Harris, WR Vincent Jackson, DT Travis Johnson, OL Marcus McNeill, LB Shawne Merriman, RB Darren Sproles, QB Charlie Whitehurst

Franchise player: None

What to expect: The Chargers have their hands full. It’s been reported they will give high tenders to Jackson, Merriman, McNeill and Floyd. Jackson and McNeill could still attract some interest on the restricted market. Sproles is not expected to be tendered, making him a free agent. The Chargers want him back. But if Sproles hits the open market, the multifaceted weapon could be scooped up quickly.

Free agency: AFC West

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
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AFC Free Agency: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

An early look at the free-agent situation in the AFC West.

Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.

[+] EnlargeChris Chambers
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelKansas City wide receiver Chris Chambers had 608 yards on 36 receptions after being acquired off waivers in November.
Denver Broncos

Unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd.

Key figures: There isn’t much here. The team could bring back Hochstein, Holliday and Law, but they are all complementary pieces. It’s all about the restricted free-agent class in Denver. The Broncos have to figure out what they are going to do with receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive end Elvis Dumervil, quarterback Kyle Orton and tight end Tony Scheffler.

Kansas City Chiefs

Unrestricted free agents: S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade,

Key figures: Chambers will be Kansas City's priority. He gave the Chiefs’ offense a big spark after he was claimed off waivers in November. The team’s brass really likes what Brown and Vrabel bring to the team and both could be back in Kansas City at the right price. Wade also could be brought back.

Oakland Raiders

Unrestricted free agents: Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, K Sebastian Janikowski, DE Richard Seymour, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Key figures: It’s all about Seymour and Janikowski. The Raiders are trying to get long-term deals with both players done. If new deals aren’t struck, watch for Oakland to put the franchise and transition tags on them. Oakland will do anything it can not to lose either player.

San Diego Chargers

Unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Key figures: The team would like to bring back Osgood, one of the best special-teams players in the NFL. But Osgood wants a chance to be a receiver and the opportunity might not be in San Diego. The Chargers will spend most of their energy on their restricted class. The priorities are receiver Vincent Jackson, tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman, running back Darren Sproles and receiver Malcom Floyd.
With Denver offensive line coach Rick Dennison headed to Houston as offensive coordinator, there will be a major change in Denver.

Expect the Broncos to begin to fully move away from the zone-blocking scheme the franchise made famous. Denver head coach Josh McDaniels kept the basis of the system in 2008, his first season with the Broncos.

The Broncos used the scheme, featuring smaller, athletic linemen, in the 14-year tenure of Mike Shanahan. McDaniels kept Dennison, who perfected Shanahan’s schemes last season. Thus, he kept the blocking philosophy. McDaniels also mixed in some of the more traditional power blocking schemes that McDaniels was operating under in New England.

With Dennison gone, watch for McDaniels to fully adopt the power-blocking mode.

This is probably best for McDaniels. It was one of the few Shanahan influences he used. It was clear he wasn’t always comfortable with it. Before Denver’s final game, McDaniels was critical of the offensive line.

Dennison is a fine coach, but now McDaniels can do what he is most comfortable with. That may mean some change in personnel. Denver loves tackles Ryan Clady and Ryan Harris. Right guard Chris Kuper is also big enough to make the transition.

But Denver could try to make changes at left guard and center where Ben Hamilton and Casey Wiegmann started, respectively. The team could bring back Russ Hochstein, who replaced Hamilton toward the end of the season. But Hochstein suffered a major knee injury, so an upgrade may be necessary.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Denver looks at offensive linemen early in the draft and in free agency as it moves away from the zone-blocking scheme.

Denver could also be in the midst of another big coaching change. Running backs coach Bobby Turner -- widely considered one of the best position coaches in the NFL -- is talking to Shanahan about becoming his associate head coach in Washington. Turner’s running schemes were a staple of the zone-blocking scheme.

Evening AFC West news and notes

November, 11, 2009
11/11/09
9:20
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
  • Guard Russ Hochstein was practicing with the first unit in Denver ahead of Ben Hamilton. Thus, it looks like Hochstein, who played for Denver coach Josh McDaniels in New England, is primed to start Sunday at Washington. Hamilton has struggled some lately.
  • Denver receiver Brandon Marshall didn’t practice Wednesday because of a back injury. It is not known if it will jeopardize his playing chances Sunday.
  • It doesn’t look like Washington running back Clinton Portis is going to face his former team Sunday.
  • With Jyles Tucker slowed by an ankle injury, the Chargers worked out Marques Harris, who left the team through free agency last year. It seems Harris will be on the team’s radar for the next couple of weeks.
  • Running back LaDainian Tomlinson (hip), tight end Antonio Gates (foot) and linebacker Shaun Phillips (ankle) were among the players who didn’t practice in San Diego on Wednesday. At this point, none of the injuries appear serious. Center Nick Hardwick continued to practice on a limited basis. Still, it is no sure thing he will play Sunday against the Eagles.
  • Here is more speculation that this will be Tomlinson’s last year in San Diego. He almost didn’t come back this year, and if his production doesn’t increase dramatically, he will likely not be a Charger next year.
  • Oakland's Greg Ellis had shoulder surgery as well as knee surgery.

McDaniels shows some guts

November, 9, 2009
11/09/09
9:40
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

DENVER -- Broncos coach Josh McDaniels showed his mettle and the call worked.

Except for that holding penalty.

After McDaniels lost a challenge, he went for it on fourth-and-5 from the Pittsburgh 39-yard line with 7:40 to go in the second quarter and Pittsburgh leading 7-3.

Kyle Orton hit Brandon Stokley for a first down. However, guard Ben Hamilton was called for holding, nullifying the play. Denver had to punt.

But the play showed McDaniels has confidence his team can move the ball on Pittsburgh’s defense.

Pregame notes from Denver

October, 4, 2009
10/04/09
3:48
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


DENVER -- We’re approaching game time and I wanted to catch up on some notes as kickoff awaits:

Running back Marion Barber is active for Dallas and is expected to play. He was dealing with a quad injury.

Denver guard Ben Hamilton is inactive with a hamstring injury. Russ Hochstein will play for him.

Rookie Denver nickel cornerback Alphonso Smith is active with an ankle injury.

It is a cool 53 degrees in Denver.

Evening AFC West news and notes

October, 2, 2009
10/02/09
8:00
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


Denver’s offensive line is beat up some heading into Sunday’s game against Dallas.

Guard Ben Hamilton is doubtful with a hamstring injury. He hasn’t practiced all week. Tackle Ryan Harris is questionable with a shoulder injury. He has been limited the past two days in practice.

In Kansas City, Dwayne Bowe is expected, barring a setback, to play Sunday against the Giants. The receiver didn’t play last week.

It was no surprise that Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour was fined $7,500 for pulling the hair of Denver tackle Ryan Clady last week. It was a clear infraction and it added to Seymour’s reputation for being a dirty player. Several Denver players were quietly upset about the play after the game.

Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli talks about Kansas City as a football town in a radio interview.

Evening AFC West news and notes

October, 1, 2009
10/01/09
9:55
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

  • As expected, the Chargers think LaDainian Tomlinson has a strong chance of playing Sunday at Pittsburgh for the first time since opening day. He is recovering from an ankle injury.
  • In Kansas City, receiver Dwayne Bowe was back at practice Thursday. He missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury.
  • Denver guard Ben Hamilton did not practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury. He didn’t practice Wednesday, either, and could be in jeopardy of missing the Dallas game on Sunday. Tackle Ryan Harris did practice some Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a shoulder injury.
  • Interestingly, San Diego worked out punter Ricky Schmitt. Regular punter Mike Scifres was limited both Wednesday and Thursday with a groin injury. The Chargers need Scifres against Pittsburgh. He is a major weapon in the battle for the field position.
  • The Oakland Tribune reports Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens may be a ways off from playing. He has a broken foot.

Evening AFC West news and notes

September, 30, 2009
9/30/09
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Oakland waived defensive back John Bowie. He was a little-used defensive back. He’ll always be remembered as the compensation Oakland received for Randy Moss from New England. The Patriots gave Oakland a fourth-round draft pick for the star receiver. Bowie was the Raiders’ choice.

So, yes, Oakland now has nothing to show for Moss, who regained his Minnesota form with the Patriots. Moss was a disappointment during his two years in Oakland.

Also in the AFC West:
  • Running back LaDainian Tomlinson practiced fully Wednesday. That is a good sign that he will be able to play Sunday at Pittsburgh. He has missed the past two games with an ankle injury.
  • Linebacker Shawne Merriman did not practice because of a groin injury. His chances of playing at Pittsburgh are up in the air.
  • In Denver, guard Ben Hamilton (hamstring) and tackle Ryan Harris (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. At this point, Hamilton may have more difficulty playing than Harris on Sunday against Dallas, but Hamilton still has a chance to play.
  • In Oakland, coach Tom Cable didn’t have much to say about his legal situation, and he didn’t exactly shoot down talk that Oakland could eventually be interested in re-signing quarterback Jeff Garcia. He was cut by the Eagles on Tuesday.
  • Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes is not blown away by San Diego’s cornerbacks. Should be a fun day in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Denver salary cap glance

February, 16, 2009
2/16/09
10:30
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Denver Broncos

Most recent salary cap availability: $7.16 million.

How can they get more cap room: The Broncos are expected to be in fine salary cap shape once they shed the contracts of some veterans and the word around Denver is it could be a bloodletting. The team is almost certain to cut defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson and cornerback Dre' Bly. Cutting Robertson would give Denver about $16 million and cutting Bly, which could happen this week, would give Denver more than $6 million in cap room. Other veterans who could potentially be salary-cap causality include guard Ben Hamilton.

Biggest free agency needs: Defensive line, linebacker, safety.

Dream date: Albert Haynesworth, defensive tackle, Tennessee Titans.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

OAKLAND -- One of the reasons many skeptics thought the Broncos would struggle was its new offensive line.

So far, no worries there. It is early in the fourth quarter, and Denver quarterback Jay Cutler has not been sacked. Cutler was not sacked in the preseason this season.

Denver is essentially starting two rookie tackles. Left tackle Ryan Clady was the team's first-round pick and right tackle Ryan Harris was Denver's third-round pick in 2007. He played one offensive play last season.

Center Tom Nalen is recovering from two knee surgeries this summer and he is replaced by former Kansas City starter Casey Wiegmann. Left guard Ben Hamilton missed all of last season with a concussion and right guard Chris Kuper saw stop action in his first two NFL seasons.

However, the line has completely dominated Oakland.

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