AFC West: Brett Favre

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Matt Schaub replaced David Carr as the Houston Texans' quarterback and, if all goes according to the Oakland Raiders' plan, Derek Carr will end Schaub's run with the Raiders.

Funny how things work out, even if it might take a few years to come to fruition.

Because make no mistake about it, the Raiders acquired Schaub this offseason to be their franchise quarterback for the now, and they drafted Carr to be their franchise quarterback of the future.

"Matt Schaub is our starting quarterback," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said last week at the team's rookie minicamp. "We feel very good about that. I've said this before -- he's been a top 10 quarterback in this league and he's performed at a very high level.

[+] EnlargeSchaub
AP Photo/Ben MargotMatt Schaub reached out to his heir apparent, Derek Carr, after he was drafted, telling Carr, "Whatever you need, I'm here to help you."
“But yeah, we like Derek Carr, and we're going to let him go out and compete and see how things work out. You can't have enough good quarterbacks in this league. You never know when injuries are going to occur, and you've got to be prepared for that, so when you have an opportunity to get a guy like Derek Carr that you feel good about, you go and get him."

One of the first messages Carr received after the Raiders used their second-round pick (No. 36 overall) on the record-setting Fresno State signal-caller came from Schaub himself.

"He just said he's here to help me with whatever I needed," Carr said. "He said, 'Hey, man, I know you have your brother, who has played 13 years ... [but] we're teammates. I'm here for you every day. Whatever you need, I'm here to help you.'

"That meant a lot."

At Fresno State, Carr was the BMOC in throwing for 5,083 yards last season, on 68.9 percent passing, with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In Oakland, he is a rookie biding his time, albeit with a serious pedigree. He was breaking down NFL tape with older brother David when he was 12 years old.

But that doesn't mean Carr, who will continue to wear the No. 4 he wore in Fresno in honor of Brett Favre, is being brash or outspoken ... yet.

"I'm just trying to encourage guys," Carr said. "This is a stressful environment. You're in the NFL. There's a lot of guys out here just trying to make the team. All of us, we're trying to make the team and trying to prove ourselves and these things. I'm just here to encourage guys, try to make it easy on them.

"If a guy dropped the ball, tell them, 'Great route,' those kinds of things. That's something I've done since I've been little. That's how I was brought up. I just try to encourage people."

Besides, Carr has his own things to work on as a newbie. He fumbled his first snap as a pro under center in Friday's practice.

"The main thing is throwing it to the right spot," he said. "There's so much that goes into one play, more so at this level than college or high school. I can't believe it. It's been fun to learn. It's something I enjoy. Absolutely I threw it to the right spot and again I have a lot to work on. I'm learning ... hopefully, there's a lot more after this."
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The conundrum, for lack of a better word, facing the Oakland Raiders as they considered their second-round pick, the fourth choice of the day, went something like this:

Take a player who, if all actually goes well, does not play a down next season, even if he is the presumptive franchise quarterback of the future.

Or ...

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
AP Photo/Eugene TannerIf everything goes according to plan, Derek Carr will play little if at all for the Raiders this season.
Select a player who can presumably make an instant impact for the Raiders as they enter Year 1 of their reconstruction.

Oakland went with the former and it makes all the sense in the world, unless it doesn't.

Confused? Don't be, because while tabbing of Fresno State's Derek Carr was met with confusion in some corners at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, he is part of a long-term plan by the Raiders. It's one that Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie witnessed firsthand in Green Bay.

Think Aaron Rodgers biding his time behind Brett Favre for three years with the Packers. Now, I'm not suggesting Matt Schaub is Favre, but you get the gist. The Raiders want Carr, who ran a high-octane spread offense his last two years almost exclusively out of the shotgun, to learn the intricacies of an NFL offense at the knee of Schaub.

And with the Raiders going all-in with Schaub as their starter for at least two years -- then again, they also seemed sold on Matt Flynn last year -- it gives Carr time to marinate in the NFL game.

“Right, we stayed true to our board,” Raiders director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales said. “We think Matt Schaub is our starter. We're confident with that and Derek will come in and he'll learn, and wherever he fits in he'll fit in. We're comfortable with the pick and knowing that he will come in and develop the way we would like to see him develop.

“He's a very mature kid. He's had a lot of life experiences that the regular 22-year-old hasn't had. He has a family, he's married, he has a child also. We're excited to get a guy like that in the program.”

The question, then, is this: Is Carr prepared to sit, or does he anticipate competing for the starting gig?

"That's for the coaches to decide," Carr said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Friday afternoon. “The coaches know who they're getting, and I told them, I appreciate your calling, you know what you're getting. I'm going to come in and work, I'm going to come in and compete and I'm going to try and make the team better. I'm not a selfish guy, that's for sure, and I can't wait to get coached by those coaches.”

At Fresno State last season, Carr passed for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions in completing 68.7 percent of his passes. And while his 74 completions of at least 20 yards led the FBS, 237 of his 659 passes were either at or behind the line of scrimmage, with an FBS-high 143 screen passes, per ESPN Stats & Info. “As a result, Carr's average pass attempt traveled 7 yards past the line of scrimmage, the fewest air yards per attempt of any top QB prospect,” per ESPN Stats & Info.

Plus, his completion percentage of 30.9 percent while under duress was the lowest of any top QB prospect, per ESPN Stats & Info. It all adds to the notion that Carr could stand to have a redshirt year, so to speak, in the NFL.

Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, Carr is the sixth quarterback taken in the first two rounds of the draft by the Raiders, following Jeb Blount (second round, 1976), Marc Wilson (first round, 1980), Todd Marinovich (first, 1991), Marques Tuiasosopo (second, 2001) and JaMarcus Russell (first, 2007).

Carr, meanwhile, said the Raiders have always been in his family's blood. His uncle Lon Boyett was a training camp tight end with Oakland in 1978.

And watching the trials and tribulations of his brother David, the No. 1 pick of the 2002 NFL draft by the Houston Texans, should only help him.

“Oh, my goodness, it's such a blessing,” the younger Carr said. “I learned everything that he did right and everything that he did wrong. He's told me. He told me that if he could do anything, he hopes he made the path smoother for me as I transition into the NFL.”

Watching from the sideline is probably the best path, at least early in his career.
Charles WoodsonAP Photo/Matthew HintonDefensive back Charles Woodson is the Raiders' lone representative on ESPN.com's top-100 list.
Today, the Raider Nation rejoices.

One of its beloved players is getting due respect. For the first time since our 100 top offensive and defensive players in the NFL project began Monday, there is an Oakland representative.

To commemorate his return to Oakland, venerable safety Charles Woodson checks in as the 68th-best defensive player in the league. Yes, Oakland gets the love its rabid fan base so hungers. Congratulations.

Don’t get used to it.

Hate to play the spoiler role, but Woodson is the first and only player to appear on either list. He is the only Oakland defensive player on the list, and there will not be any offensive players from Oakland on the top-100 list. Oft-injured running back Darren McFadden had some momentum, but he did not make the list.

One Oakland player in the top 200? Here’s a little perspective: The Raiders’ Bay Area rival, San Francisco, has three defensive players in the top 11. All four of Seattle’s defensive backs made the top 100.

Is this Raider hating? I’d doubt that’s the case. ESPN enlisted 63 voters, including former players and reporters (I was one of the voters). We graded more than 500 NFL players and the results were tabulated. I can assure you there was nothing sinister at work.

Woodson stands alone because a large group collectively thought he was the only Raider who was deserving.

It’s no shock Oakland doesn’t have much representation on this list. These have been hard times for the Pride and Poise. Oakland hasn’t had a winning record since 2002, and it is tied for the second-longest current playoff drought in the NFL.

Oakland is considered to have one of the weakest, thinnest rosters in the NFL heading into the 2013 season. General manager Reggie McKenzie, in his second season as the replacement to the late Al Davis, is basically starting over. It hasn’t been easy for McKenzie.

He inherited a terrible salary-cap situation and a dearth of draft picks because of poor decisions made in the Davis era. The result is a bare-bones team. And, yes, a roster not worthy of getting much top-100 recognition.

“It is as bad as it looks in Oakland,” ESPN analyst Matt Williamson said.

Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. agrees. He was not shocked to see Oakland nearly get snubbed.

“I liken them to a Triple-A baseball team right now,” Horton said. “They lost so many players to free agency because of the cap restrictions and all they have replaced them with are bargain-basement free agents. It’s going to be rough there.”

Still, both Williamson and Horton believe McKenzie’s plan of starting over is the right thing to do, because he has no choice.

While the recent past has been bleak and the immediate future doesn’t show much promise, McKenzie’s plan could help infuse some more talent on the roster. The Raiders may have a surplus of $69 million in salary-cap room next year.

That doesn’t necessarily mean McKenzie will spend wildly and build an instant Pro Bowl roster. His front-office roots are in Green Bay, and he has said he will subscribe to the Packer way as he reconstructs Oakland’s roster. That means keeping his own players first. McKenzie has shown that philosophy this summer by locking up potential free agents kicker Sebastian Janikowski and long-snapper Jon Condo to long-term deals. Other players, such as injured left tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston and fullback Marcel Reece, could also be candidates to be re-signed before they hit free agency.

While the program is clearly in tough shape, it would be inaccurate to portray this roster as talentless. There are about 1,900 players in the league, and some of the good ones do don Silver and Black.

There is promise. In addition to the above-mentioned players, Oakland building blocks include center Stefen Wisniewski, young receivers Rod Streater and Denarius Moore, safety Tyvon Branch, cornerback D.J. Hayden, offensive tackle Menelik Watson and linebacker Sio Moore.

The cupboard is not bare. But the truth is there are few established stars currently playing in Oakland. McKenzie knows it is his job to develop them.

“When I first got to Green Bay, there wasn’t a bunch of studs there,” McKenzie said. “Then we got Brett Favre and then we got Reggie White. And things started to look a little better. Right now, we have to turn some of these guys into studs and keep building. That’s the only way this thing is going to work.”

Here are some highlights from our AFC West chat, held earlier Thursday:

Denver

David from Mile High City: Hey Bill, How much do you think Ayers can really step in for the loss of Dumervil? Because I'm worried that if Ayers can't be a force to be worried about, Von could see a lot more double-teams..

Bill Williamson: The Broncos don't need Ayers to be Dumervil. They just need him to continue to do well against the run and be a solid player.

Kansas City

Nollskie from Oklahoma: If KC wins 8-8 games they lose a second round draft pick in 2014? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

BW: It really depends on how well Smith plays. Effective quarterback play is worth it.

Oakland

Robert from Cali: Why is everyone so worried about making Tyler Wilson the starter for the Raiders? he needs time to sit and learn (ex. Aaron Rodgers)

BW: I don't think anyone is worried. It's just an opportunity. Big differnce -- Rodgers was sitting behind Brett Favre. Wilson is behind a 28-year-old who has two NFL starts. So, if Flynn fails to show he is an NFL starter, the opportunity for Wilcon could arise.

San Diego

Nick W. from Indianapolis: When you were in SD how did the secondary look to you? Derek Cox and Shareece Wright especially.

BW: The secondary begins with Weddle and Cox. Questions after that. Wright can be good, but he is raw.
Andy Reid said he will do his due diligence before deciding on the No. 1 pick in the draft and he is doing it.

NFL Network reports the team will bring West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner in for visits. They went to the campuses of several other top prospects. None of this is a surprise. Reid said he would look at right to 10 prospects and Smith would be one of them.

The Smith visit will spark speculation that he is a favorite to be the No. 1 pick. The NFL Network report states Kansas City scouts are fascinated by him and think he can be a bigger Donovan McNabb. He, of course, was the No. 2 overall draft choice in Philadelphia in 1999. It was Reid’s first season there.

I don’t think the Chiefs are close to figuring out what they want to do. If Smith blows them away, he could be the pick. But right now I wouldn’t say he is the favorite. I still think it is Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel.

If Geno Smith was the choice, I wouldn’t have a big problem with it because the Chiefs don’t have huge pressing needs. So if they think they can get a great player, they should take it. Alex Smith was traded for to be the immediate starter and I think he will still be even if Geno Smith is taken. But Geno Smith could be stashed away. Remember, Kansas City general manager John Dorsey comes from Green Bay where that approach worked with Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre.

Still, I think Geno Smith would have to completely blow away the Chiefs for him to be the choice. Also, the team is interested in trading the pick. Talking up Geno Smith could be a way of drumming up interest.

In other AFC West news:

Former Oakland defensive back Michael Huff has agreed to a deal with the Baltimore Ravens. He replaces star safety Ed Reed. Huff is the second AFC West player the Ravens signed to rebuild their defense. Elvis Dumervil was signed earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the Denver Post explains that Dumervil took less guaranteed money from the Ravens than what the Broncos were offering.
There have been a lot of comparisons of Brett Favre to Peyton Manning in the past two days.

The parallels are obvious.

Like Favre did in 2009 in Minnesota, Manning had great success with the Denver Broncos in 2012, his first season with the club. Like Favre did, Manning made the Broncos a Super Bowl contender right away.

However, like Favre, Manning helped doom his team with a late ill-advised interception in his team’s territory to end his team’s season in the postseason. Denver and Manning lost to Baltimore, 38-35, in double overtime Saturday in the AFC Divisional playoffs. Favre and the Vikings lost at New Orleans in overtime in the NFC championship game.

The Broncos and their fans hope that’s where the comparisons end.

Favre was essentially done when he returned in 2010 and the Vikings couldn’t recapture their magic.

I don’t think there is much for Denver to be worried about. Favre had to be talked into playing in 2010. Manning is coming back, no questions asked. He is already making plans to try to win in the cold weather in next year’s Super Bowl in New York, according to the Denver Post. Manning will be 37 in March.

Favre was 40 in his final year. He much more banged up than Manning, who had good health this season in his return from a neck injury that kept him out of the 2011 season.

While there are no guarantees the 2013 regular-season will be as successful as it was in 2012 for Denver, expect Manning to come back from the disappointing 2012 conclusion raring to go.

AFC West stats to know

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Let’s look at key Week 10 statistics for each AFC West team courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information:

Denver

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has won 146 games as a starting quarterback. Dan Marino is third on the all-time list at 147. Manning’s boss, John Elway, is second at 148. Brett Favre is way down the line at 186. Manning plays against Carolina and quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday. Manning was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1998. Newton was the top pick in 2011. Via the Elias Sports Bureau, Manning is 27-9 against fellow top pick quarterbacks. It’s the best record in the NFL.

Kansas City

Running back Jamaal Charles is struggling in recent weeks. He has just 83 yards on 29 carries in the past three games for a 2.9 yard average. In the first five games, Charles -- who missed most of last season with a torn ACL in his knee -- had 551 yards on 104 rushes. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry.

Oakland

The Raiders have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards since the start of the 2010 season. They allowed three last week to Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin. The next worst three teams on the list in that category since the start of the 2010 season have surrendered 12 combined. Up next for Oakland: Baltimore tailback Ray Rice.

San Diego

Philip Rivers misses Vincent Jackson. He will see him in Tampa Bay on Sunday, but it won’t do Rivers any good. Jackson became a Buccaneer this season. Check out the difference in Rivers’ downfield throws with and without Jackson:

After spending 14 years in Indianapolis as the face of the Colts, Peyton Manning is poised to join the Denver Broncos.

Manning will turn 36 on Saturday. Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information, here is a list of other notable quarterbacks who changed teams late in their careers:

Norm Van Brocklin

Traded to the Eagles after playing nine seasons for the Rams. Won the NFL title in 1951 with L.A., then finished his career in 1960 leading the Eagles to the NFL championship.

Fran Tarkenton

Traded from Vikings to Giants in 1967 and back to Vikings in 1972. Multiple draft picks were involved each time.

Johnny Unitas

Purchased by the Chargers prior to the 1973 season after 17 illustrious seasons in Baltimore. Lasted only five games with the Chargers before retiring.

Joe Namath

Signed with the Rams after being waived by the Jets in 1977. Played only four games in L.A.
  • Twelve seasons with Jets
  • Record of 2-2 in one season as the Rams' starter in 1977
Joe Montana

Traded from 49ers to Chiefs in 1993 for a first-round draft choice. Played two seasons with Chiefs, taking them to 1993 AFC Championship Game.
  • Thirteen seasons with 49ers
  • Record of 17-8 in 2 seasons as Chiefs starter in 1993-94 (lost conference championship game in 1993)
Drew Bledsoe

Traded from Patriots to Bills in 2002 for a first-round draft choice. With Tom Brady taking over in New England, Bledsoe was dealt to a division rival where he started every game in three seasons with the Bills.

Brett Favre

Traded to Jets after 16 seasons in Green Bay. Spent one year with the Jets before joining Minnesota for two seasons.
  • 9-7 with Jets in 2008 (led NFL with 22 interceptions)
  • 17-12 in 2 seasons as Vikings starter in 2009-10 (lost Conference Championship game in 2009)
Donovan McNabb

Traded to Redskins after 11 seasons with Philadelphia. Spent one season in Washington before going to Minnesota.

What's next for Raiders at QB?

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Jason CampbellAP Photo/Ben MargotRaiders quarterback Jason Campbell is likely out for the rest of the season following this hit.

OAKLAND -- On a day of immense emotion, the Oakland Raiders suffered a crushing blow that will force them to make a huge decision in the post-Al Davis era.

Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to miss the rest of the season with a broken collarbone. Campbell was injured in the second quarter of the Raiders’ 24-17 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. A source close to the situation said it is unlikely Campbell will return this year. Raiders coach Hue Jackson did not give a timetable for Campbell’s injury, but he sounded like a man who knows he needs to make other quarterback plans.

The injury put a damper on what is developing into a very strong season for the Raiders, as well as on a poignant day when the Raiders paid tribute to Davis. Oakland’s owner died Oct. 8 at the age of 82. It was the Raiders' first home game since Davis’ death.

Campbell was one of the Davis’ favorite players, and his acquisition in 2010 helped the Raiders begin a revival as they moved away from colossal draft bust JaMarcus Russell. Campbell was making great strides under Jackson and offensive coordinator Al Saunders this season and was the perfect game manager for an offense that features the NFL’s best running game.

Now the Raiders have to quickly figure out what they are going to do. For now, it looks like backup quarterback Kyle Boller will be given the first opportunity to start.

The Raiders must decide now whether they think Boller is capable of keeping them in contention. Oakland is 4-2 and trails San Diego (4-1) by a half-game in the AFC West. The Raiders host Kansas City next week, then have their bye. They then host Denver. So the Raiders -- who are two games over .500 for the first time in nine years -- have a manageable next few weeks.

Boller was just OK on Sunday as the Raiders won on the steam of a kick return for a score by Jacoby Ford, a touchdown pass on a fake field goal from punter Shane Lechler to Kevin Boss and improved defense. Boller was 8-of-14 for 100 yards. He missed badly on some passing attempts.

[+] EnlargeOakland Raiders quarterback Kyle Boller
AP Photo/Paul SakumaKyle Boller will likely be given the first opportunity to start at quarterback for the Raiders.
Still, Boller is experienced. He has started 46 NFL games, the last coming while with the Rams in 2009. He played under Jackson in Baltimore. Several Raiders receivers said Sunday they will have confidence in Boller if he is their starter. Ford said he will expect to see Boller as the starting quarterback “until I’m told otherwise.”

Ford should expect Oakland to consider other options in the next couple of days.

This is the first big personnel challenge for the Raiders since Davis’ death. Jackson and Mark Davis -- Al Davis' son -- are currently making decisions with input from others including former Raiders employees John Madden, Ron Wolf and Ken Herock.

If the Raiders decide to pursue a quarterback outside the organization who can start, the list probably will begin with David Garrard. He is a free agent who was cut by Jacksonville. He would give the Raiders a veteran presence. But he hasn’t played in six weeks, so there is a rust factor.

Perhaps Oakland would consider calling Denver about Kyle Orton, who was replaced by Tim Tebow last week. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Sunday morning that the only way Denver would trade Orton is if a team suffered a major injury and called the Broncos.

Would the Broncos deal the free-agent-to-be inside the division, though? I bet they would.

I’m sure the quarterback Jackson would most like is Carson Palmer. He coached him in Cincinnati. Yet the Bengals have maintained that they won’t deal Palmer. The trade deadline is Tuesday. Yahoo is reporting the Raiders are already trying to get Palmer.

Of course, there’s another name out there. Yes, Brett Favre. He is 42 and has maintained he is retired. But wouldn’t that be the ultimate tribute to Davis, adding a beaten-up gunslinger to save the season?

That scenario is much more of a pipe dream than reality, and the Raiders must face reality in this situation.

If they stick with Boller, I could see them bringing back Trent Edwards to back him up. Boller beat out Edwards for the backup job this summer. The Raiders also probably will try to speed up the development of rookie Terrelle Pryor. He is expected to be activated from the roster-exemption list Monday. His five-game NFL suspension ended last Monday.

Pryor was expected to be a project. He is still a project, but if other options fail, he could be pressed into action. But he is far from being ready.

This major flux at quarterback is definitely not what this team needed. It's also devastating for Campbell, 29. He fit in well with this team after not succeeding in Washington. Now his future is up in the air. His contract expires at the end of the season. There were indications that the Raiders could give him a new deal. Now, that is likely on hold.

Jackson said Sunday that the biggest thing the team will miss is Campbell’s leadership.

They also will miss the balance he gave the Raiders' offense. With Campbell out, teams will key on stopping the running game, which could limit the offense. The ever-optimistic Jackson vowed that his team will “be just fine.”

There is a lot to like about this team. But the loss of Campbell certainly casts a cloud over this season.
Philip RiversDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesWithout a Super Bowl ring, will Hall of Fame voters look past Philip Rivers?
There are six active starting NFL quarterbacks who have won a Super Bowl.

Philip Rivers is not one of them.

That fact hangs over Rivers’ head and will be the biggest question mark about him until he wins one. There’s little doubt that the San Diego Chargers’ prolific, big-armed, big-hearted leader is the best active quarterback alive without a Super Bowl ring.

If Rivers, 29, ends his career without hardware, will it prevent him from being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? After his first five seasons as an NFL starting quarterback, Rivers (the No. 4 overall pick in the 2004 draft) has compiled statistics that suggest he is on his way to making the Canton, Ohio, museum.

And, thus far, he compares with non-Super Bowl-winning modern era quarterbacks such as Jim Kelly, Warren Moon, Dan Marino and fellow Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts.

“I think he’s on his way,” Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. said of Rivers' chances of becoming bronzed. “He’s got the look of a Hall of Fame player. He belongs with those names that have made it recently … It would really help his cause if he won a championship, but he’s on pace in my mind.”

Quarterbacks are judged on championships, and Rivers has pressure because several quarterbacks he is judged directly against have won Super Bowls recently.

New Orleans' Drew Brees won the title after the 2009 season. Brees left San Diego after the Chargers decided to start Rivers in 2006. The Giants' Eli Manning won the title in 2008. Manning and Rivers were the centerpieces of a 2004 draft-day trade. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls. He was picked seven slots after Rivers in 2004. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl earlier this year. He was drafted the year after Rivers.

The two other active quarterbacks to have won the Super Bowl are New England's Tom Brady (three rings) and the Colts' Peyton Manning (one).

If Rivers doesn't win a Super Bowl in his career, it could be held against him in the Hall of Fame voting room, especially if a few more quarterbacks win titles before he retires. The numbers could be stacked against him.

Brady and Peyton Manning are slam dunk Hall of Famers. I'd think Roethlisberger, Brees and Rodgers are in good shape to make it unless they all totally fall apart. Recent retiree Brett Favre will make it, and fellow recent retiree Kurt Warner has a great chance to be enshrined. The late Steve McNair could also get some consideration. Thus, a lot of quarterbacks who played during Rivers' career could be heading into the Hall of Fame in the next five to 15 years.

[+] EnlargePhilip Rivers
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireDuring his career Philip Rivers has passed for 19,661 yards, 136 touchdowns and has a passer rating of 97.2.
Seven quarterbacks have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame in the past 15 years. But this is a golden age of quarterbacking, so a large number will get in if they are deemed worthy by the voting committee. Winning that elusive ring is always recommended. A title could be the difference for Rivers between getting elected quickly and having a long wait.

Still, Rivers’ numbers show he is on pace to be considered seriously for Hall of Fame enshrinement.

In his career, Rivers (who threw a total of 30 passes in his first two NFL seasons) has thrown for 19,661 career yards. He has thrown 136 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. His career passer rating is 97.2. In 15 career seasons, Fouts threw for 43,040 yards, 254 touchdowns and 242 interceptions, and his passer rating was 80.2. Rivers is on pace for a much better career than Fouts, who never went to a Super Bowl but is enshrined in Canton.

Kelly, who lost four Super Bowls, played 11 seasons in the NFL. He threw for 35,467 yards and 237 touchdowns, and his passer rating was 84.4. Moon played 17 seasons in the NFL. He threw for 49,325 yards and 291 touchdowns, and his passer rating was 80.9. Dan Marino played 17 seasons. He threw for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns, and his passer rating was 86.4

If Rivers continues to play at a high level, he could be in the neighborhood of some of these Hall of Fame quarterbacks who did not win a Super Bowl.

Of the active Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, only Rodgers has a better career passer rating than Rivers. Peyton Manning, Brady and Brees have more touchdown passes, and Peyton Manning and Brees have more passing yardage than Rivers since 2006.

“He stacks up with a lot the current guys and the recent Hall of Famers,” Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said. “I think he is very much in the same class as Kelly or Moon for sure -- and maybe even Marino. Longevity will be key, but his lifetime numbers should be off the charts.”

If Rivers (who had a famously speedy recovery from a torn ACL in the 2007 playoffs) can stay healthy, he should make a serious Canton push, ring or no ring.

“The guy has everything,” Horton said. “He’s a son of a coach. He’s a gym rat. He has great skills. He showed last year he can succeed with street free agents because all of his guys were hurt … Philip Rivers is a Hall of Fame type guy, there’s no doubt about it.”

George Blanda was one of a kind

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George Blanda was Brett Favre without the waffling.

Blanda, the quintessential old-school NFL player, played until he was a month shy of his 49th birthday as a kicker. He played quarterback well into his 40s. He won games quarterbacking and kicking on the same day and had a wonderful run in the 1970s for the Raiders.

Blanda, who played a staggering 26 years of professional football, died Monday at age 83. One of the all-time ironmen in the history of sports, he was a close friend of Oakland owner Al Davis, who is two years younger than Blanda.

There will never be a player like Blanda in the NFL again. We’re watching Favre hold on at age 40 now. Add eight more years and that was Blanda.

Blanda, who started playing in the NFL in 1949, joined the Raiders at the age of 38 and was an effective backup quarterback (who came in and saved the Raiders more than once) and kicker.

On ESPN’s SportsCenter on Monday, Mike Ditka remembered his old friend as an all-time competitor who hated losing, even if it was “pitching pennies.”

My one experience with Blanda certainly backs up that reputation.

In 2000, while I was covering the Minnesota Vikings, I contacted Blanda, who was 73 at the time. Vikings kicker Gary Anderson was just about to pass Blanda as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. When the record fell, the old record holder is often sought out to bring perspective. Usually, the old record holder is supportive of his record being broken.

Not old George. He wanted nothing to do with it. In fact, he was pretty salty about it. As Ditka said Monday, Blanda was ultra-competitive even well after his retirement. He hated to lose.
San Diego is in an interesting position when it comes to Vincent Jackson’s holdout. They never know which team is going to get racked with injuries or get desperate and make a move to pursue the Pro Bowl receiver.

That may have just happened in Minnesota.

Standout Vikings receiver Sidney Rice is likely out until November with a hip injury. With fellow receiver Percy Harvin dealing with serious migraine headache issues, the Vikings are in a lurch at the position.

There are currently no intriguing names available on the open market, but there will be some decent players available Sept. 4 when teams make their final cuts. Minnesota can wait to see what pops up or it can go big and try to make a deal for Jackson and get a star.

The Vikings may be tempted to take a shot at since Brett Favre is back and they know this is their best shot for a Super Bowl title.

There are plenty of catches, though. The Chargers have only given Seattle permission to talk to Jackson about a contract. Still, if a team offers the Chargers enough goods, I’m sure additional permissions would be granted.

Still, the only way Jackson, who is facing a three-game NFL suspension, is going to report to any team is with a new contract. Jackson wants a contract similar to the deal Miami gave Brandon Marshall after getting him from Denver for two-second round picks in April. Marshall is being paid $50 million over five years.

Minnesota would likely have a difficult time swallowing that pill considering Rice and Harvin are both young players who have bright futures. Still, the Vikings’ receiving crew is currently a mess. Jackson would solve the problem, starting in Week 4. Will it be worth it? Perhaps not.

But it wouldn’t be shock if Minnesota considers it. Just like any team that may suffer a big injury at the position during Jackson’s holdout.
Former NFL star receiver and current ESPN analyst Cris Carter told reporters in Minnesota that the Kansas City Chiefs’ brass was aware he’d be attending the same camp as Dwayne Bowe. He indicated that he would try to help Bowe, who struggled last year.

The camp was run by Arizona star receiver Larry Fitzgerald in his native Minneapolis and attended by several NFL receivers. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Bowe received tough love from both Carter and fellow former star receiver Michael Irvin.

“Some people in Kansas City as far as their administration kind of knew I was going to be here. We kind of let them know that I would be here for Bowe,” Carter said.

The paper said Bowe made his debut at the camp Thursday and he was admittedly out of shape after taking some time off.

"Can you imagine your first day coming back to 14 [100-yard sprints]?" Bowe said. "Man, it was like college again. I’ve never done this intensive competing, conditioning and technique in one day."

Bowe said he was attending the camp because he saw the noticeable improvement Minnesota’s Sidney Rice made last year after attending.

"You can tell [the potential impact] by the production that Sidney Rice had last year," Bowe said. "I know he had Brett Favre but still. I talked to him a week ago and he told me they competed and it made him [better] and he went to the Pro Bowl. Now I think it’s my turn to take over."

The Chiefs have to feel the same way. Perhaps that’s why they talked to Carter about Bowe. He is a talented player who took strides backwards last season. Bowe, a No. 1 pick in 2007, had a total of 156 catches in his first two NFL seasons. However, he had just 47 catches and was suspended for four games for using a banned substance in 2009.

While he has been in and out of coach Todd Haley’s doghouse, the Chiefs are giving Bowe a clean slate. They have not given up on him, but they know this is a vital season for him. Perhaps his time with Carter, Irvin and Fitzgerald will help.
The fascination with Tim Tebow continues.

Tebow’s No. 15 Denver Broncos jersey was the highest selling jersey in the NFL from April 1 to June 30. That is pretty impressive considering Tebow wasn’t in the NFL until late April. His jersey was the early leader right after the draft and has continued to stay hot into the summer.

Tebow’s jersey sales lead fellow quarterbacks Donovan McNabb (who changed teams in early April), Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Brett Favre.

There are four other rookies in the top 20. Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is No. 8, St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford is No. 9, Dallas receiver Dez Bryant is No. 15 and Kansas City safety Eric Berry is No. 18.

Where could Russell land?

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
8:10
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There is little chance JaMarcus Russell will be claimed off waivers because of his large salary. However, I bet some team gives him another chance at some point.

He is only 24 and he has a great arm. NFL coaches are very arrogant. They think they can make players stars. So, some team will likely give Russell the league minimum salary and another chance.

With the help of my fellow bloggers, here is a list of some teams that could take a look at Russell.

Arizona: The Cardinals aren’t exactly set at quarterback.

Buffalo: The Bills have a need for someone who can help now. That’s not Russell.

Chicago: Bears’ offensive coordinator Mike Martz loves big arms. But the Bears would likely want a more experienced backup.

Cincinnati: The Bengals could use a backup and they aren’t afraid of adding anyone.

Minnesota: If Brett Favre doesn’t come back, there could be a need there.

New Orleans: Maybe Sean Payton and a return to Louisiana could spark his career.

Philadelphia: The Eagles aren’t scared of bringing in quarterbacks.

San Francisco: The 49ers could use another arm, but not sure how this would fly in the Bay Area. Raiders’ fans would love it.

Washington: Mike Shanahan would probably love to stick it to Al Davis and make something out of Russell.

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