AFC West: Brian Westbrook

The Kansas City Chiefs are the first team in the AFC West to wrap of their offseason work. They had their mandatory minicamp this week and do not assemble again until they begin training camp in late July. The other three teams in the division have their mandatory minicamps next week.

Some highlights of the camp as it closes:

  • [+] EnlargeKansas City's Tyler Bray
    Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsTyler Bray has impressed during Kansas City's OTAs.
    Kansas City coach Andy Reid is excited about undrafted free-agent, quarterback Tyler Bray. He was expected to go in the mid-rounds. But because of worries about his overall inconsistencies he went undrafted. Yet, Bray was strong this spring with the Chiefs. He has a very strong chance of sticking on the 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback, where he would start the process of a being a developmental player. “I’ll tell you, he did a nice job. He did a really nice job,” Reid told reporters in Kansas City on Thursday. “You never know until you get them here. He’s in a good room, so he’s got good examples around him as players. He’s got coaches that have played the game and the position in there. He’s embraced that and really focused in. The fact is that he did a nice job and improved every day. He was a bit like a sponge just taking everything in. I was impressed.”
  • Running back Jamaal Charles ran for 1,509 yards last season. Yet, he knows his job description is changing with Reid as his coach. Charles will still carry the ball often, but Reid likes getting his running backs involved in the passing game. “I know my role in my mind will be doing lots of stuff with the offense,” Charles said. “I’m like (Brian) Westbrook and (LeSean) McCoy as far as how I fit into (Reid’s) offense ... I definitely need to do more studying and knowing the scheme of the defense, especially playing a position like wide receiver. I have to go in there and try to read the defense. Last year, I didn’t have any catches out of the backfield. I feel like this year it will be more.”
  • New cornerback Sean Smith said most of the defensive backs will train together in the Miami area during the coming weeks.

Evening AFC West notes

August, 16, 2010
The trip from California to Kansas City can be a lengthy one, but let’s wrap up the day with some notes around the AFC West:
  • The Chiefs should be nice and refreshed Tuesday when I check them out. Coach Todd Haley surprised the troops by yanking them off the practice field and onto the awaiting buses Monday morning. The destination: The movies. Who said Haley isn’t the warm-and-fuzzy type?

AFC West news and notes

August, 14, 2010
San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman told reporters that his two-week holdout didn’t help him as he returned to the team. Check out what he had to say:

"I didn't accomplish anything at all," Merriman said. "I always knew that I was wanted here, which was one of the biggest reasons for getting things sorted out. You hate to deal with the whole business part of it, but I'm so glad it's behind me and I can go out and play."

It’s good that Merriman figured that out and he is now on board with the team. He’s right. His holdout was a waste of time.

ESPN’s John Clayton is saying he expects free-agent running back Brian Westbrook to sign with St. Louis on Monday. He had visited Denver.

Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson is still trying to work his way back into the starting lineup.

Evening AFC West news and notes

August, 12, 2010
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that free agent running back Brian Westbrook will decide his future by Monday. He visited Denver in May. The Broncos lost interested in June, but they have suffered many injuries at running back, so perhaps the team will regain interest.

Is there a chance Brandon Marshall will return to Denver to play professional sports? I say, no chance.

Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey talks about why he thinks he’ll improve in his second NFL season in a radio interview.

San Diego rookie running back Ryan Mathews talks about the upcoming season in a radio interview.

Chargers rookie defensive tackle Cam Thomas is being investigated for alleged actions he took while at North Carolina.

Mortensen looks at the improving Kansas City Chiefs after his camp visit this week.

Is San Diego tight end Antonio Gates a better fantasy pick than Indianapolis’ Dallas Clark?

Denver cut linebacker Nick Greisen and signed linebacker Johnny Williams. He was on Pittsburgh’s practice squad at the end of last season.
The Denver Broncos must feel they have long-term problems at running back.

Why else would they sign LenDale White?

White, who Denver announced it inked Wednesday, is facing a four-game NFL suspension. He won’t be able to help Denver until Week 5 at Baltimore, at the earliest.

White wasn’t a hot item on the open market. He had virtually no interest after Seattle cut him and his suspension was disclosed. White was traded from Tennessee to Seattle during the draft weekend, but he was quickly despite being reunited with his coach at USC, Pete Carroll.

The scuttlebutt around the league was if White couldn’t resurrect his career under Carroll, where would he be able to do it? White hopes that answer is in his hometown of Denver.

The Broncos sure hope White has a revival. Denver signed White after starter Knowshon Moreno and backup Correll Buckhalter were hurt. Both are supposed to be back this month, but clearly Denver didn’t like its overall depth. The team cut Kolby Smith to make room for White.

Once White returns from his suspension (assuming he makes the 53-man roster), he will likely be used in short yardage. He is a big back, who can be effective in short runs. White rushed for 2,349 yards (3.7 per carry average) and had 24 touchdowns in four seasons with the Titans. If Moreno and Buckhalter return healthy, White could team with them to make a decent running back crew.

White's signing does not necessarily take Denver out of the Brian Westbrook sweepstakes. Westbrook is a smaller back, who plays a different game than White. If the Broncos decide they want to pursue Westbrook, there will be room for him as well.
The Denver Post is reporting that second-year running back Knowshon Moreno might have torn his hamstring during the team’s first full day of training camp.

The Broncos have given any definitive updates on Moreno’s status. He was taken off the field on a cart.

Moreno, the No. 12 overall pick last season, is Denver’s starting running back. We will give updates as we get them.

Also, Denver running back Correll Buckhalter suffered an upper back injury. Denver is very thin at running back with the two injuries and Friday’s trade of J.J. Arrington to Philadelphia.

The Broncos visited with free agent Brian Westbrook in May. They could explore that option again, although he is simply a complementary player at this point.

UPDATE: I just spoke to ESPN’s medical analyst Stephania Bell. She said hamstring tears vary in severity and the recovery time can be from a few weeks to several months. So, if Moreno has a tear, it could be serious.
J.J. Arrington has been a Bronco for two years, but he will not play a game for the team.

In a surprise move, Denver traded the running back/return man to Philadelphia for linebacker Joe Mays.

According to people close to Arrington, the move was totally unexpected. Arrington was headed into the season with the inside track to be the third-down running back and perhaps a returner. Denver resigned Arrington this year after signing and cutting him last year after he needed knee surgery.

The question now is who Denver’s third-down back will be. The trade could potentially mean Denver will revisit signing free agent Brian Westbrook. In June, Denver sources said they were no longer interested in Westbrook because the team wanted to see what Arrington could do. The source said Westbrook could come back into play in training camp if the team wasn’t sold on Arrington.

So, it’s something to think about.

Eddie Royal and rookie Perrish Cox will likely have the inside track for the return man roles. Mays, a third-year player, will compete for a roster spot. Denver needs some depth at inside linebacker.

On the radar: J.J. Arrington

July, 15, 2010
NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

[+] EnlargeJ.J. Arrington
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiJ.J. Arrington is getting another chance with Denver.
The Denver Broncos are giving J.J. Arrington another chance to be their short-yardage back. Denver signed Arrington as a free agent in 2009. But he failed his physical because he needed major knee surgery.

Denver re-signed Arrington this year with the hope he can give the team a spark. The Broncos desperately need a third-down back who can produce. Arrington, who also could be in the return-game mix, has ability and showed flashes while with Arizona. If he can stay healthy, the Broncos will use him extensively.

Denver visited with veteran third-down back Brian Westbrook in May. But the Broncos decided to take a long look at Arrington in training camp. If Arrington can stay healthy, and if he looks good, Denver will keep him. If not, and Westbrook is still a free agent, the Broncos could come calling.

But Arrington will be given the chance to succeed in Denver. It’s clear the Broncos want it to work out with Arrington or they wouldn’t have brought him back.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Indications from Denver’s minicamp Friday is that the team is softening its pursuit of free-agent running back Brian Westbrook.

Westbrook visited Denver in May and the Broncos were satisfied with what they saw from the back, who is recovering from several injures. The former Philadelphia star has also talked to Washington and St. Louis.

The Broncos, however, are now focused on how third-down back J.J. Arrington fares in training camp.

If Arrington suffers an injury setback or if he doesn’t perform well, Denver could then see if Westbrook is still available.

You pick it responses

May, 21, 2010
The story of Denver Pro Bowl linebacker Elvis Dumervil showing up for OTAs despite not signing his restricted free-agency tender is the story of the week in our “you pick it” feature.

The other candidates were ESPN reporting Oakland has internally discussed signing veteran receiver Terrell Owens and veteran running back Brian Westbrook visiting Denver.

I agree with the readers. The Dumervil story is big. If he is showing up to a voluntary May camp, it means Dumervil will surely show up for training camp in late July. The Broncos and Dumervil are talking about a long-term deal. Dumervil’s gesture of showing up means the talks are being done in good faith. That is significant since Dumervil is a vital part of Denver’s defense.

Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone who participated:

Christopher Merrill from Tulsa, Okla.: The story about Elvis Dumervil is probably it; the others are just tales so far. But if Dumervil is practicing without signing his tender, something is in the works. I don't think his agent would be comfortable with Dumervil practicing with the amount of money doubtless being discussed if an agreement wasn't close.

Ian Serby from Fort Collins, Colo.: The story has to be Dumervil talking long-term deal. If he signs long-term the Broncos will have a big force on defense for that long term, which is highly important especially given the Denver's inconsistency on D the past decade.

Angelo from Harker Heights, Texas.: I have to say Oakland talking about T.O. is by far the most interesting story. If anything comes of this talk Oakland could be making a very bold move in disrupting a very fragile locker room. That being said, T.O. would be a huge improvement to a very shaky receiving group. I just don't know how this will work out.

Mark P. from Colorado Springs, Colo..: Story of the week has to be T.O. talks in Oakland. Coach Cable denies any conversations about Owens have taken place, but no one really believes half the stuff that comes out of ANY coach's mouth. They've talked about it and the conversations had to have had shades of Randy Moss thrown in. The difference between Moss and T.O. are night and day. Moss isn't a locker room leader. T.O. is. A Moss meltdown involves turning into a slacker. A T.O. meltdown involves confrontation of coaches and players to do their jobs. When T.O. is mad, he wants the ball. When Moss is mad, he's a crybaby. The Raiders need a veteran on offense that cares. T.O. can do the job!

Gabe from Houston: Dumervil participating in OTAs is definitely the story of the week. All coach McDaniels preaches is "team first", if this isn't a case of a stellar individual putting his team's needs before his own, I don't know what is. Pay the man. People who have said that he is a one trick pony, that he's a liability against the run, didn't see how well he does that one trick. An agressive pass rusher who constantly pressures the quarterback can stop an offense on his own, can create turnovers, and can change a game in an instant. Pay Mr. Dumervil and let him do what he does best...harass and hammer Rivers and Cassel, and now Campbell.

Tony Perkins from Springfield, Mo.: Dumervil gets my Nod this week. He is leading by example and working out with his teammates. This is so rare these days that you have to give props to the man and hopefully he gets rewarded. We'll take him in KC if Denver decides to trade away another talented player.

Sound-off responses

May, 20, 2010
Most Denver fans who responded to our sound-off question are interested in the team signing Brian Westbrook.

Denver brought in the former Philadelphia Eagles running back for a visit last week. The team remains interested in signing him. Westbrook, 30, was a fine player, but he has been hampered by knee, ankle and concussion issues.

I think the move would only make sense if Denver used him as a third option and didn’t overpay him. Westbrook has to prove he can stay healthy before he can be counted on. It seems most fans who responded this week feel similarly.

Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone who participated:

Dan Seier from Colorado Springs, Colo.: I believe Westbrook would be a good signing for Denver. He can be a game-changer. Also Buckhalter & Arrington both have proven to be injury prone so maybe between these 3, collectively, they would provide great backup to Moreno.Also, I believe McDaniel's increase of the 2-back set includes a role for Tebow. I'll bet in some packages... he is one of the 2 backs.

Adam from Nampa, Idaho: I think my Denver needs Westbrook! I think that with his ability to catch the ball out of the back field will really open up our passing game and a great runner. Even though he will be a part time player I think as the season moves along I really think he will play more! I think Westbrook has alot to prove to us fans and to himself. Shoot he may get into the starting line up with an injury and I think he will be a great asset to our team either on the sideline or on the field. His expierence will help all our running backs! SO Denver should sign Brian Westbrook soon!

The Donald from Fort Collins, Colo.: On Brian Westbrook it's an interesting idea, he was great running screens in Philly. So if Orton is still the starter last year showed that teams are queueing in on the short throws so his experience in these plays may be helpful. BUT I don't think that this aspect of his game puts him above moreno and buckhalter as explosive plays and with his durability issues he is not really a goalline option either. All in all i don't think this is the right choice for my Broncos.

Jeff from Arlington, Ma.: Bill, I'm not a Broncos fan, but I am a Westbrook fan. I think adding Westbrook would be a great move for Denver. Sure he has had injury problems, but the guy's only 30 - do you want a laundry list of guys over 30 still playing productively in the NFL? I would argue that when healthy, Westbrook is the equal of any running back currently in the league. You wouldn't want to have to rely on him as your only solid RB because of the injuries, but he'd be a great addition to any team.

Jarrad from Logan, Utah: I think Westbrook would be a good fit in Denver, for the right price. He has proven that, when healthy, he can be a dominant force running and catching out of the backfield. Denvers offense is full of screens and misdirection plays that should allow Westbrook to have the ball in space. He has proven that when he has the ball in his hands, and a few yards cushion, that he can do great things. His injury history is a concern, and the Broncos would need to take that into account when deciding the amount of guarenteed money in his contract. That being said, if he is healthy now, and can be picked up at or near the veteran minimum, Denver should pull the trigger.

Francisco Sandoval from Arvada, Colo.: No I don't think Westbrook will be a good fit for the Broncos. They have enough running backs and he would be a waste of money to the team. Moreno, Buckhalter and Arrington will suffice for this team.

Perry West from Monument, Colo.: I am fairly sure that if he were being considered for a change of pace or third down back he would be a very good fit. The problem I think would depend on what kind of money he is trying to obtain.

Josh H. from Kansas City: Denver should definitely sign Westbrook if he is willing to take a contract that a role player should take and not look for a starting RB's salary. He's a playmaker in the passing game and running game, and he'd be a good mentor for Moreno. However, I wouldn't be extremely disappointed if Denver didn't sign him as he is, just that, a role player.

Conrad from Parker, Colo.: BW, I really don't want Westbrook in Denver. That would mean the Broncos would have 3 injury-prone RB's on the roster. They need another young backup to groom behind Knowshon.

Jeff from Gainesville, Fla.: When you look at the Broncos' group of running backs, the only one with a similar skill set as Westbrook is JJ Arrington who was just re-signed after having micro-fracture knee surgery a year ago. Knowshon Moreno is more of a power back with good elusiveness and toughness but doesn't have great speed. Buckhalter is very similar except he is 31 and far more injury prone than even Westbrook. Westbrook is a guy who is arguably one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL and has big play ability, something Denver lacked last year from its running backs. We also can't discount how much emphasis Coach McDaniels has put on getting high character guys in the locker room, and Westbrook has received a lot of praise in that area from former teammates. He gets a chance to rejoin Buckhalter in the same backfield as well as being on the same team as Brian Dawkins again. Without Brandon Marshall, the Broncos need all the veteran receiving help they can get.
It looks like Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens will be out until training camp. He is healing from a second foot surgery that he needed this offseason after missing several games with a broken foot last year.

Schilens is regarded as Oakland’s best receiver. This is not a devastating blow as long as Schilens is healthy and ready to go for training camp.

Washington coach Mike Shanahan said he expects to find out about Brian Westbrook’s future soon. The veteran running back has visited both the Redskins and the Broncos recently.

Miami can’t be thrilled that the expensive Brandon Marshall era is starting this way. Marshall, 26, was often banged up in Denver and his physical play has obviously worn on him.

Oakland coach Tim Cable seems less sure of a long-term deal for defensive end Richard Seymour than he did at the team’s minicamp a few weeks ago. I'd still expect Seymour to eventually sign with the Raiders, but he has not participated in the team’s offseason sessions.

Denver safety Brian Dawkins is trying to forget the Broncos’ end-of-season collapse.

Guard/center Cory Procter has followed up a visit to Denver with trips to New England and to Miami. Dallas cut him earlier this week. Procter would help Denver’s interior line.

Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe dropped some passes in the Chiefs’ OTA on Wednesday. He has had hands issues in the past.

Former Chiefs quarterback Trent Green will be part of the Chiefs’ preseason broadcast team.
The candidates are:

Westbrook visits Denver: Veteran running back Brian Westbrook visited Denver last week. Denver coach Josh McDaniels said Westbrook is healthy and ready to play.

Raiders have talked about Owens: ESPN’s John Clayton has reported that the Raiders have discussed veteran receiver Terrell Owens internally. Still, Clayton said the Raiders are not close to signing Owens.

Dumervil and Broncos are talking about a long-term deal: Denver star linebacker Elvis Dumervil worked out with the team during OTAs despite not signing his restricted free-agent tender. The Broncos and Dumervil are working on a contract extension.

Choose your story of the week and hit my mailbag with your thoughts. I will post some of your responses later in the week.
Our sound-off question this week is for Denver fans.

Do you want the Broncos to sign veteran running back Brian Westbrook? Denver brought him in for a visit last week.

Westbrook, 30, was a fine player in his prime. However, the former Eagles standout has been hampered by knee, ankle and concussion issues. Denver coach Josh McDaniels said last week that Westbrook is healthy.

Do you think Denver needs him? Do you think he would be a good fit or a waste of time and money to try to squeeze production out of a player past his prime?

Hit my mailbag with your thoughts. I will post some of your responses later in the week.
Denver coach Josh McDaniels told the Denver Post that free-agent running back Brian Westbrook is healthy. Westbrook, who has been dealing with ankle, knee and concussion issues, visited with Denver on Thursday. The Broncos and Westbrook are expected to continue to talk. He’d be a role player in Denver.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter says Shawne Merriman trade talks are dead, but things can change. Still, I expect Merriman to play in San Diego for one final season.

Denver star linebacker Elvis Dumervil is expected to arrive in Denver for an OTA next week. He has been staying away from team activities because he is a restricted free agent who has not signed his tender.

I expect Dumervil to report to training camp with or without a new contract. However, I expect a long-term deal to get done before free agency starts next year. The Broncos highly value Dumervil. He led the NFL with 17 sacks last season.