AFC West: Dennis Dixon

While the San Diego Chargers wait to see if the knee injury suffered by backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is serious (he doesn’t think it is) the team has covered its bases by contacting other quarterbacks, U-T San Diego reports.

They should make one call -- to Billy Volek. And I would be shocked if Volek wasn’t on their list.

Volek, 36, was cut by the Chargers this offseason in a salary-cap move because Whitehurst was cheaper and younger. To me, it makes perfect sense for Volek to be re-signed if Whitehurst is going to be out for an extended period of time.

Volek knows the system and starting quarterback Philip Rivers is very comfortable with him.

Sure, there are other quarterbacks out there -- including Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley, Dennis Dixon and J.P. Losman -- but none makes more sense in San Diego than Volek if Whitehurst’s injury turns out to be bad.

Meanwhile, the Oceanside, Calif., home where Chargers legend Junior Seau committed suicide on May 2 is for sale.
Peyton Manning recently signed a five-year deal with the Denver Broncos. Yet, at 36, Manning probably has three good years left before Denver must re-assess their future.

In an Insider piece Insider,Todd McShay writes there is a perfect developmental prospect available in this draft for the Broncos -- Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler.

The 6-foot-7 Osweiler has a big arm, but he is raw and he needs time to learn the game. He’d have time and top-notch mentoring from Manning. The Broncos are clearly in accordance with McShay on Osweiler. The team’s brass has studied him and I think he could be a target of the team in the third round if he is available.

Meanwhile, here are several of the Jon Gruden quarterback camp videos. Check out the videos of Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Osweiler and Kirk Cousins. The Chiefs and Broncos have been linked to these players.

In other AFC West news: reports the Ravens will be working out quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Dennis Dixon. Boller was Oakland’s backup last season and he is not expected to be back with the Raiders in 2012. Dixon visited Denver a few weeks ago. The Broncos still have some interest in Dixon.

ESPN The Magazine offers a wonderful look at Manning’s process in free agency and the special mentorship he leaned on during the trying time. It’s a worth a check.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen talks about what he is looking for from young quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
The Denver Post is reporting the Broncos will bring in receiver Brandon Stokley for a visit on Monday.

The visit has been expected essentially since the Broncos signed quarterback Peyton Manning last month. The two played together in Indianapolis and are close. Manning stayed at Stokley’s home when he visited the Broncos prior to signing there. Stokley is also a former Bronco. The Broncos have previously signed former Colts tight end Jacob Tamme, so Manning might have two targets he is familiar with.

Meanwhile, the Denver Post is reporting the Broncos will release defensive tackle Ryan McBean. He is facing a six-game NFL suspension for using a banned substance. The Broncos just signed defensive tackle Justin Bannan and are expected to add a player at the position early in the draft.

UPDATE: The Broncos rescinded McBean’s restricted free-agent tender and he is now an unrestricted free agent.

The Denver Post reports the Broncos are still interested in Pittsburgh free-agent quarterback Dennis Dixon and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the draft. Dixon visited Denver a few weeks ago. Right now, newly signed Caleb Hanie is Manning’s backup, but the Broncos will likely bring in another quarterback at some point.

Here is a look at the 2012 strength of schedule. The Broncos have the second toughest schedule in the NFL based on last season’s combined win/loss records of their 2012 opponents. The Chiefs have the easiest schedule in the division.

Here is a look at some of the draft prospects the Broncos have looked at.

AFC West notes

March, 25, 2012
The Broncos are visiting with Pittsburgh reserve quarterback Dennis Dixon. His visit started before Denver signed QB Caleb Hanie. Hanie has the inside track to back up Peyton Manning in Denver, but the Broncos are still interested in signing Dixon to compete with Hanie during training camp.

If Dixon is signed, Denver may still draft a quarterback to develop.

Center Jeff Saturday explained why he signed with Green Bay as opposed to Denver to reunite with Manning. Saturday told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he thought the Packers wanted him more than the Broncos did. Denver has third-year center J.D. Walton, who they are happy with. Denver looked at Saturday because of his comfort level with Manning.

In other AFC West news:

The Kansas City Star has a cool look at the Chiefs’ visit to Iowa’s pro day.
With Peyton Manning coming and Tim Tebow going out, the Broncos still are not settled at the quarterback position.

Who is going to be Manning's backup?

Denver could always opt to keep Tebow, but ESPN has reported the team will try to trade him. They may even release him if they don’t find a trade partner.

The matter of Manning’s backup is significant. Manning passed the Broncos’ physical and he has been cleared to play in 2012 after missing all of last season with a neck injury. But there has to be a backup plan.

There aren’t too many great options out there. The top backup options are Byron Leftwich, Matt Leinart, Charlie Batch Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Billy Volek, Josh Johnson and Dennis Dixon. Of that group, I think Volek -- who was released by the Chargers last week -- could be the best option. He is a serviceable player in a pinch.

Denver could always draft a quarterback to groom behind Manning. Manning, who turns 36 Saturday, probably has at least three solid seasons remaining in him if his neck holds up.

It might be a little early to draft a quarterback in the early rounds and I think Denver is now out of the Brandon Weeden mix. Denver has closely scouted him, but he will be 29 during the season. There is little chance Denver will take a quarterback who may not be in the position to start until he is well in his 30s.
When the Oakland Raiders cut guard Cooper Carlisle last week in a salary-cap move, they told his agent they wanted him back.

They stuck to their word and have re-signed Carlisle.

It will be interesting to see what they are going to do with him. He is a right guard as is newly signed Mike Brisiel. One of them could be moved to left guard and the Raiders could make second-year standout left guard Stefen Wisniewski a center. That was the original plan when they draft him.

If not, Carlisle gives Oakland good depth on the line.

UPDATE: A source close to the situation said that, while plans can change, there is a strong chance Carlisle will move to left guard and enable Wisniewski to move to center. I think that would be a smart move. Carlisle is a solid pro and Wisniewski may be better suited at center. In Brisiel, Carlisle and WIsniewski, the Raiders would have a strong interior line.

Nothing is official, but it seems like that may be way the Raiders are leaning.

In other AFC West news:

If Oakland doesn’t sign Matt Leinart to be its backup quarterback, John Johnson or Dennis Dixon could also make sense.

Cincinnati is visiting with Denver free-agent defensive lineman Derrick Harvey. He is not expected to be back with the Broncos.

AFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 7, 2012
AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

Free agency begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET

Denver Broncos

Key free agents: K Matt Prater (franchised), DT Brodrick Bunkley, S Brian Dawkins, TE Daniel Fells, FB Spencer Larsen, WR Eddie Royal, QB Brady Quinn, DT Marcus Thomas, LB Wesley Woodyard, P Britton Colquitt (restricted).

Where they stand: The Broncos will have plenty of salary-cap room. For a team that went from 4-12 with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft to winning the AFC West and a playoff game in John Fox’s first season as coach, the Broncos are in position to improve through free agency. With Prater franchised, the team’s only priority unrestricted free agent is Bunkley.

What to expect: Don’t expect a huge spending spree. The Broncos are cash conscious and I think the franchise is still recovering from some undisciplined spending during the Mike Shanahan era that ended in 2008. We will see the Broncos try to add several pieces at lower prices. Denver could address needs at safety, running back, receiver, tight end, linebacker and quarterback. Keep an eye on players such as Washington safety LaRon Landry, Seattle tight end John Carlson, quarterbacks Chad Henne (Miami), Dennis Dixon (Pittsburgh) or Josh Johnson (Tampa), running backs Michael Bush (Oakland) and Mike Tolbert (San Diego), and defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene Cincinnati.

Kansas City Chiefs

Key free agents: WR Dwayne Bowe (franchised), CB Brandon Carr, QB Kyle Orton, RB Jackie Battle, LB Jovan Belcher, S Jon McGraw, C Casey Wiegmann, RB Thomas Jones, DE Wallace Gilberry, DT Kelly Gregg

Where they stand: The Chiefs are in great shape on cap space even after signing cornerback Stanford Routt and franchising Bowe. They have already done a nice job in free agency with these two moves and have a good, young roster. Kansas City can become a serious playoff contender with the right moves. It is likely Carr will leave in free agency, but the Chiefs should be able to re-sign most of their other free agents if they wish.

What to expect: I’m not sure we will see the Chiefs break the bank for any of the super-hot free agents, but I expect them to do some significant shopping. I think we could see Kansas City look for help at nose tackle, linebacker, safety, tackle, running back and quarterback. Of course, the intrigue could start if the team gets in on the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. But they could also look at several other quarterbacks, including Orton, Henne, Jason Campbell (Oakland) or even Quinn. They could also be in the mix for Miami nose tackle Paul Soliai, Saints guard Carl Nicks and running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis (New England), Bush and Tolbert.

Oakland Raiders

Key free agents: S Tyvon Branch (franchised), RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Campbell, LB Quentin Groves, C Samson Satele, WR Chaz Schilens, DE Trevor Scott, FB Marcel Reece (restricted).

Where they stand: The Raiders are one of the few teams that must get under the salary cap. Oakland coach Dennis Allen recently acknowledged the team has work to do. The Raiders have some contracts that can be easily restructured, but they also may have to cut some players, particularly on defense. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and defensive tackle John Henderson are among the top candidates.

What to expect: The Raiders likely face some limitations once they get under the cap, but they can add two or three starting-quality players under the right circumstances. Their primary needs are on defense, starting at cornerback and linebacker. The offensive line could be upgraded as well. I think they can be in on the second wave of cornerbacks. A player to watch is New Orleans cornerback Tracy Porter, who previously played for Allen. There are some solid second-tier cornerbacks Oakland could be interested in other than Porter. There will be some good players available on both sides of the ball after the initial wave of free agency for short-term deals. Expect the Raiders to do some bargain picking during that time. I think Oakland will be interested in signing several of its free agents, but I expect Bush and Campbell will leave.

San Diego Chargers

Key free agents: WR Vincent Jackson, C Nick Hardwick, RB Tolbert, DT Antonio Garay, OT Jared Gaither, FB Jacob Hester.

Where they stand: The Chargers will be in decent shape and they are getting even better after cutting Luis Castillo, the retirement of guard Kris Dielman and the expected release of tackle Marcus McNeill. But San Diego still has a lot of work to do. They have the most priority free agents of any team in the division. Signing Jackson, Hardwick, Gaither, Tolbert and Garay will be a challenge.

What to expect: The Chargers will likely stick to their usual plan and concentrate first on their own free agents. But they also have other needs and they will likely spend more in free agency than they have done before under general manager A.J. Smith. I get the sense from some agents that the Chargers may spend wildy in an attempt to win back the fan base’s trust after the unpopular contract extensions for Smith and coach Norv Turner. The pair were brought back even after missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season. I also get the sense from inside the organization, however, that the Chargers will not act out of desperation. Look for the team to consider pass-rushers, nose tackles, safeties and offensive linemen if Hardwick and Gaither aren’t brought back. A receiver will also become a major need if Jackson goes. The Colts' Reggie Wayne could be an option in that case. A running back such as Cadillac Williams (St. Louis) reportedly will be in the mix if Tolbert walks. Soliai could interest the team as well. Chicago special teams ace Corey Graham may also be a target. If the Chargers want to make a huge splash, they could try to get in on Houston pass-rusher Mario Williams, who is widely considered the best player on the market.
Last week, we looked at rookie quarterbacks who may be a good fit for the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.

Both teams are expected to add a quarterback during the offseason. Let’s take a look at the current unrestricted free agents, who could intrigue either team. The list doesn’t include the Colts’ Peyton Manning. But once he is cut, expect both teams to at least consider signing him with the Chiefs being the more likely of the two teams.

Jason Campbell: I could see the former Raiders starter in Kansas City. He played for Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn for two years in Washington.

Dennis Dixon: He could be a backup option in Denver if the Broncos are looking for a mobile quarterback.

David Garrard: He may be rusty after sitting out the 2011 season and he won’t be a top option. But he is an experienced backup that could fit in with either team.

Chad Henne: There has been talk Denver will be interested and he could push Tim Tebow. Kansas City could also be interested. He played for new Kansas City offensive coordinator Brian Daboll last season.

Shaun Hill: I could see him being on Denver’s list as a backup.

Josh Johnson: Denver could look at him as a backup to Tebow.

Byron Leftwich: Like Garrard and Hill, he is an experienced backup who could be interesting for Denver if other options don’t develop.

Kyle Orton: If he doesn’t get a better option, Orton could come back to Kansas City and try to take Matt Cassel's job.

Brady Quinn: I doubt he returns to Denver, but if other options don’t pan out in Kansas City, he could be looked at as a backup. He played for Chiefs’ coach Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.

Sage Rosenfels: Put him in the Garrard, Hill, Leftwich category for Denver.

Vince Young: Giving Tebow a similar backup would be compelling and you never know, maybe the light would finally come on for Young in Denver.

Inactives from Denver

November, 9, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

DENVER -- Below are the inactive players from Monday night’s game.

As expected, Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark is inactive because of concerns over his health. He has a rare sickle-cell trait that causes his body to adversely react to exertion in high altitudes. In 2007, the last time Clark played in Denver, he had complications that led him to lose his spleen and gall bladder.


2 Dennis Dixon 3QB

25 Ryan Clark S

65 Kraig Urbik G

66 Tony Hills T

77 Sunny Harris DE

81 Shaun McDonald WR

90 Travis Kirschke DE

94 Lawrence Timmons LB


3 Tom Brandstater 3QB

22 Peyton Hillis RB

30 David Bruton S

70 Seth Olsen G

74 Ryan Harris T

81 Richard Quinn TE

84 Brandon Lloyd WR

98 Ryan McBean DL