AFC West mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Mid-week mail call:

Collin from Kansas City: Tyler Thigpen has looked pretty good in 2 of his 3 outings, especially his last two. Do the Chiefs need to continue to look for starting QB's? Also, with Kolby Smith and Larry Johnson out who is the #1 back once LJ's suspension is over (assuming the Chiefs let him play).

Bill Williamson: Thigpen will get the chance to prove he is the quarterback of the future. It would be shortsighted on the Chiefs' part not to give him a chance. If Johnson is active, he will be the starter.

Kory from San Mateo, CA: Hello sir. Raiders' players, when asked about Michael Vick, about whether they would want Vick on their team, responded that they would like him on the Raiders. Of course, the people interviewed played with Vick before. What's your take on this situation? It looks to me like the Raiders players threw JaMarcus under the bus.

Bill Williamson: I saw that story in the Contra Costa Times as well. Basically, players who were with Vick in Atlanta such as DeAngelo Hall and Ashley Lelie said they'd want to play with him again. It was a good read, but many, many obstacles would have to be overcome for Vick to join the Raiders down the road.

Matt from Rochester, NY: Bill, I truly feel that Denver blew it on Sunday, and gave SD the last piece they needed to make a run at the playoffs. With the injuries Denver has now sustained on defense, I feel that SD should feel good about the playoffs. which should have some scared. Thoughts?

Bill Williamson: Yes, San Diego has to feel good about things. It is 3-5 but still San Diego is just one game behind in the division. The Chargers are healthier than the Broncos and have an easier schedule with more home games. The Chargers are in decent shape if they can find some consistency.

Chris from Ft. Worth: After this Falcon debacle, I'm going to do something I've never done; look ahead to the draft. I know the Raiders are only 2 game out of 1st place but with this last performance, we don't deserve anything but a last place finish. With that being said, will the Raiders (Al Davis) go with boring (Andre Smith) or flashy (Michael Crabtree)? Do you think he is gunshy about picking a potentially great Left Tackle because of Robert Gallery or will the lure a big-time talent at wideout be too much for Al to pass up?

Bill Williamson: Left tackles aren't boring. They are essential. Crabtree would be fine but the Raiders need some legitimacy on the offensive line. Look, Jake Long and Ryan Clady have helped their teams. The Raiders tried glitz this offseason. It hasn't worked out yet. The Raiders need to do what's best for them and if a left tackle is best, they must draft one.

East Haven: Do you think Russell is a bust already? Don't you think it's a little premature for everyone to start caliing him that. The Raiders are horrible and no matter who the qauterback was even someone like Tom Brady they still would be horribe. There is no supporting cast for Russell. Put him on a good team and he would flourish.

Bill Williamson: Yes, it is way too early to call Russell a bust. He hasn't done well and he must improve. But he has a poor offensive line and weak receivers. He needs help. Let's wait a year or two before labeling Russell as a bust.

Noah from San Diego: Hey Bill great job, i am an avid reader of your blog and a so far disappointed Chargers fan. My question is this, I have been reading on websites, other Blogs, and hearing from local news that if the chargers make the playoffs that Shawn Merriman might still be able to suit up this year.Any real truth to this hope giving rumor, or is Shawn shut down this year regardless of how far SD goes?

Bill Williamson: Thanks for the nice words, Noah. No, Merriman is out for the entire season. He is done until 2009.