AFC West: Cory Boyd

Showdown in San Diego notes

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
7:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

SAN DIEGO -- The temperature is supposed to be in the high 40s and it is already a hostile crowd in San Diego. The visiting Broncos are being booed mercilessly.

Rookie Jacob Hester is replacing Mike Tolbert in the starting lineup at fullback for San Diego. Tolbert is active.

Rookie Josh Barrett is replacing the injured Marlon McCree at free safety for Denver. McCree is not active.

Tatum Bell, signed last month, and Cory Boyd, playing in his first NFL game, are the only active tailbacks for Denver.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

How does a guy go from working at a cellular phone kiosk in a mall to being a team's lead tailback in a winner-take-all regular-season finale?

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When a team loses seven tailbacks to the injured reserve.

Tatum Bell is the quintessential emergency tailback. Bell, signed last month by Denver, is now the team's go-to tailback on Sunday night. The winner of the game will be AFC West champ.

The latest Denver running backs lost to injury are P.J. Pope and Selvin Young, both hurt in Sunday's loss to Buffalo. Pope started against the Bills and had 44 yards on six carries before he suffered a hamstring injury. Young suffered a neck injury against Buffalo.

Now, Bell gets the call. Traded by Denver to Detroit in 2007, Bell was cut by the Lions in September. He was out of football for two months and was working at a Denver-area cell phone store as a manager when the Broncos brought him back.

Backing up Bell on Sunday will be Cory Boyd, who was re-signed off the practice squad. and Alex Haynes, who was signed Monday. Boyd could get a chance for extensive playing time against San Diego if he performs well in practice. He has been a good practice player, but Denver didn't think he was ready for game action a couple weeks ago. Now, the Broncos have no choice but to play Boyd.

Denver will have to find a way to get a running attack going against the Chargers. In the fourth quarter against Buffalo, Denver threw 22 times and ran it three times.

Denver coach Mike Shanahan said at his news conference Monday that the team must simply make do.

"Even though we have had a couple more guys go on IR, we still feel like we have guys that know our system, terminology and how to execute, so that is a plus," Shanahan said.

AFC West news and notes

December, 17, 2008
12/17/08
8:21
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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.

Evening AFC West notes

December, 16, 2008
12/16/08
9:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

  • The Broncos cut rookie running back Cory Boyd. He could be signed to the practice squad. Boyd was getting extensive practice repetitions last week but he tailed off toward the end of the week and the team decided he wasn't ready to play.
  • The Raiders cut linebacker Robert Thomas from injured reserve.
  • Former Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer chimes in on the Carl Peterson departure from Kansas City. Many Chiefs fans, from reading the comments in my mailbag, are hoping that Schottenheimer returns to Kansas City either as coach or general manager.
  • Despite missing seven games, Denver left cornerback Champ Bailey is a first alternate on the Pro Bowl team.
  • The NFL will not fine San Diego guard Kris Dielman after he was ejected Sunday in Kansas City.

Around the AFC West

December, 11, 2008
12/11/08
1:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com s Bill Williamson

Around the AFC West

Denver

Its Cory Boyd time in Denver.

My take: If Boyd gains 100 yards in any game the rest of the season Mike Shanahan should be put in the hall of fame right away. The Broncos have had their usual ground success this season despite a brutal amount of injuries. Six Denver tailbacks have suffered serious injuries this season. Yet, the machine continues to roll along. Now, it's Boyd's turn. He will likely get significant playing time the rest of the season. He was on the street for a few months after being cut by Tampa Bay and he spent a few weeks on the Denver practice squad. Now, he's getting his turn in Denver. Will it work? It usually does in Shanahan's run-friendly offense.

Kansas City

Tyler Thigpen is not pushing the matter.

My take: Despite support from Tony Gonzalez, Thigpen refuses to lobby for the Chiefs' starting quarterback job. He figures he needs to do a better job in the win/loss column before stating his case. This is another reason why Kansas City should go with Thigpen. He is a humble kid who realizes the team is more important than him.

Oakland

Bill Belichick said something interesting about the Raiders.

My take: The Patriots' coach indicated that Raiders' owner Al Davis is involved in the defense. Belichick is never one to try to cause waves with opponents so he likely said what he thought was common knowledge. Former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin got in trouble when he suggested the same thing earlier in the season. Davis can't do anything to Belichick of saying it, though.

San Diego

Jacob Hester likes playing fullback.

My take: While it's only temporary it's good for the rookie to get some playing time anywhere he can. Hester has shown a spark in a limited role this season. With Darren Sproles a free agent, Hester may get increase playing time in 2009 so this experience is valuable.

AFC West notes: Russell ready

December, 10, 2008
12/10/08
9:17
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here are some AFC West evening notes:

Oakland coach Tom Cable said quarterback JaMarcus Russell is going to be able to play Sunday against New England. Russell practiced Wednesday. He suffered an ankle injury last week at San Diego.

It appears rookie Cory Boyd will have a chance to play Sunday for Denver at Carolina. Boyd, who was signed to the Denver practice squad a few weeks ago, was promoted to the 53-man roster this week after Denver lost starter Peyton Hillis, the fifth running back the Broncos have lost for the season. Boyd will likely play along with Selvin Young and Tatum Bell.

Boyd is a big, downhill runner, which is the type of back Denver has had success with. He was a productive player at South Carolina.

"We are bringing Cory up and we still have Tatum," Denver quarterback Jay Cutler said today. "I think we are going to be fine playing with those two guys. "I think our offensive line has done a great job no matter who is back there by making holes. Some weeks, the running game opens up something for the passing game and vice versa. Through all the injuries and all the different tailbacks I think we've done a good job of consistently trying to run the ball."

Another free agent pickup, Kwame Harris, has been replaced in Oakland. Mario Henderson is taking over at left tackle. Harris has struggled often this season and he did not have a good game in Oakland's 34-7 loss at San Diego on Thursday. Harris has committed 11 false starts and four holding penalties this season. Harris has a $6 million roster bonus due in March so it's likely he will be cut.

Broncos make roster moves

December, 9, 2008
12/09/08
6:53
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Broncos made some roster moves Tuesday afternoon.

They put running back Peyton Hillis on injured reserve. He suffered a torn hamstring in Sunday's win over Kansas City. Hillis is the fifth Denver tailback and 14th Bronco overall to be sent to the IR this season. As expected, the team promoted running back Cory Boyd from the practice squad to take Hillis' place.

Boyd, a rookie from South Carolina, is expected to be in the tailback mix down the stretch along with Tatum Bell, Selvin Young (who could play Sunday at Carolina for the first time since suffering a groin injury in early October) and P.J. Pope.

Also, Denver signed guard Pat Murray from Seattle's practice squad and cut safety Calvin Lowry. Lowry started three games this season after being claimed off waivers from Tennessee. He became expendable with Josh Barrett's strong play.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Hillis

What are the Denver Broncos going to do at running back?

It is a question the Broncos ask every few weeks. The question is necessary now that rookie Peyton Hillis has been lost for the season with a hamstring injury.

Hillis, a converted fullback, was doing a nice job for Denver. Don't get me wrong, Hillis wasn't to be confused for Adrian Peterson and he wasn't reminding the Broncos of the Clinton Portis days. But Hillis was efficient and he was working very well as part of Denver's offense. He fit the running scheme.

Now, Denver has to start over again. And this will be the greatest challenge of its running back carousal this season.

As Denver tries to clinch the AFC West, it will need a balanced offense. However, Denver may not be able to find that balance.

Hillis was Denver's fifth tailback to suffer a season-ending injury. A sixth, Selvin Young, has missed two months. While Denver was able to cobble together a decent running game through all the injuries, it may be tough now. Denver's lead back is now Tatum Bell. He was out of football a month ago.

While Bell had a 28-yard run Sunday against Kansas City, it was clear Denver coach Mike Shanahan didn't yet trust Bell with the game on the line. Denver was running end-arounds with receivers rather than giving Bell significant carries. You think Shanahan remembers the end of the 2006 season when Bell's fumbling issues led directly to Denver missing the playoffs?

Now, Shanahan is down to Bell. Young is close to coming back but he wasn't a favorite of the coaching staff at the time of his injury. The team also has P.J. Pope and Cory Boyd, who is being promoted from the practice squad. Neither of those players have any significant experience.

Denver's running game has always gotten by. Shanahan, who many in the league believe is doing one of his best coaching jobs in this injury-riddled season, will have hope his penchant for making something out of lesser tailbacks continues.

If not, the there will be even more pressure on quarterback Jay Cutler, who threw 40 passes Sunday.

The loss of Hillis could be the most untimely and debilitating because there is little left in the cupboard.

Broncos, Chiefs make moves

November, 4, 2008
11/04/08
5:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Broncos and the Chiefs shuffled their rosters Tuesday.

In Denver, the Broncos signed linebacker Mario Haggan, running back P.J. Pope and defensive back Roderick Rogers.

Haggan has spent the past five seasons with Buffalo and he played in 65 career games for the Bills. He was signed because weakside linebacker D.J. Williams is out for the next month with a knee injury. Pope and Rogers were on Denver's practice squad.

Pope was signed to the 53-man roster because Denver put running backs Michael Pittman and Andre Hall on the injured reserve, ending their seasons.

Denver cut tight end Chad Mustard and it added running back Cory Boyd and linebacker Tyson Smith to the practice squad. Boyd, a South Carolina product, was Tampa Bay's seventh-round pick this year.

In Kansas City, activated wide receiver Kevin Robinson and tight end Michael Merritt. Both players are rookies. Robinson was a sixth-round pick from Utah State and Merritt was a seventh-round pick from Central Florida. Both players have been on injured list.

The Chiefs could still try to sign a running back with Kolby Smith out for the season with a knee injury.

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