AFC West: Elvis Duemrvil

  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Denver cornerback Tracy Porter visited the New Orleans Saints (his original team) on Monday. The Raiders are also interested. Porter is not expected to return to Denver.
  • Former Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is reportedly visiting Detroit. He visited the Colts on Monday. The former No. 7 overall draft pick was recently cut by Oakland.
  • CBS Sports thinks the Broncos are the best team in the NFL of right now. Yes, it’s early. Very, very early.
  • Elvis Dumervil will wear No. 58 with the Ravens. Perhaps it is a nod to former Denver teammate Von Miller.

AFC West injury report

September, 30, 2011
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San Diego tight end Antonio Gates is not expected to play against Miami, because of a lingering foot injury that kept him out of six games last season and last week’s game. I could see San Diego holding Gates out until after its Oct. 16 bye. Gates will be replaced by veteran Randy McMichael.

Cornerback Quentin Jammer is also doubtful. He suffered a hamstring injury last week. Promising rookie Marcus Gilchrist is expected to play for Jammer against Miami on Sunday.

The battered Chargers listed starting receivers Vincent Jackson (abdomen) and Malcom Floyd (groin) as questionable. But they both practiced fully Friday, so that is a good sign they will play Sunday. Running back Ryan Mathews (foot) and rookie defensive end Corey Liuget (ankle) are both probable after they both practiced fully Friday.

The Denver Broncos do not know if they will have the services of two key defensive players Sunday at Green Bay.

Both cornerback Champ Bailey (hamstring) and defensive end Elvis Dumervil (shoulder) have been listed as questionable on the injury report. Neither has been on the field since Week 1, and both were limited all week in practice.

Denver’s defense -- which was ranked No. 32 last season -- is ranked No. 16 this season. Getting Bailey and Dumervil back should only improve the Broncos.

Running back Knowshon Moreno is listed as probable. He has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. He’ll likely back up Willis McGahee on Sunday while he shakes off the rust.

In Oakland, safety Michael Huff (concussion), defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder) and fullback Marcel Reece (ankle) are all questionable to play against New England on Sunday. All three are key cogs for the Raiders. Cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring) and receiver Louis Murphy (sports hernia) are out, as expected. Receiver Jacoby Ford (hamstring) is listed as questionable, but he is expected to play for the first time since Week 1.

There are several Oakland players listed as probable, but they are all expected to play.

In Kansas City, cornerback Brandon Flowers (ankle) and safety Jon McGraw (shin) are questionable to play against visiting Minnesota on Sunday. They were both limited all week in practice. Rookie first-round pick Jon Baldwin is out. He has been limited in practice the past two weeks. He suffered a thumb injury in a reported fight with teammate Thomas Jones six weeks ago. It seems like Baldwin will play at some point, but you have to wonder how long it will take him to catch up when he does hit the field.

AFC West injury update

September, 28, 2011
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A Wednesday injury look around the AFC West:

Denver Broncos: Cornerback Champ Bailey was limited in practice Wednesday. He missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. Defensive end Elvis Dumervil was also limited with a shoulder injury. He, too, missed the past two games. Running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and linebacker D.J. Williams (elbow) both practiced fully.

Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback Brandon Flowers was limited with an ankle injury he suffered Sunday at San Diego. Receiver Jon Baldwin was limited for the fourth straight practice. He reportedly suffered a thumb injury in a fight with teammate Thomas Jones. It’s promising that Baldwin is working some, but until he practices fully, you must wonder when will he be able to make his NFL debut. The first-round pick is nearly six weeks behind.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders received good news when receiver Jacoby Ford re-joined practice Wednesday. He has been out for the past two weeks with a hamstring injury. His presence should only make a potent offense even more potent. Safeties Michael Huff and Mike Mitchell were also back at practice. Cornerback Chris Johnson and receiver Louis Murphy remain out, and their chances of playing at New England may be affected.

San Diego Chargers: The San Diego Union Tribune reported that cornerback Quentin Jammer, tight end Antonio Gates, receiver Vincent Jackson and receiver Malcom Floyd were all not practicing. None of this news is surprising. The Chargers often keep players who are banged up out of practice early in the week. We will have to monitor each player’s progress later in the week.
DENVER -- It was weeks into John Elway’s new role in his old home and he was explaining how he could best help the Denver Broncos take advantage of having the No. 2 overall draft pick.

While taking a break from scouting players at the NFL combine, the legendary quarterback stood in an Indianapolis hotel and said he thought he knew how to evaluate pass-rushers as well as any position on the field (quarterback and receiver included) because those were the players he spent all his time studying to beat.

There was no pass-rusher –- or any player regardless of position -– available in the 2011 draft who would have worried Elway the quarterback more than Von Miller. That's why Elway, the lead decision-maker of the Broncos, jumped at the opportunity to make Miller the centerpiece of his organization -- a team that no longer resembles the perennial contender of Elway’s heyday.

As the Elway-John Fox era officially begins when the Broncos host the Oakland Raiders in the second half of an ESPN “Monday Night Football” doubleheader (kickoff is set for 10:15 ET), all eyes will be on No. 58. Miller picked the number of his hero, the late Derrick Thomas. The Kansas City Chiefs’ Hall of Fame linebacker sacked Elway 26 times, the most of any player in Elway's career. This time, though, Elway won’t mind seeing that No. 58 drop the quarterback.

[+] EnlargeVon Miller
Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesVon Miller was drafted to revitalize a defense that ranked last in the NFL in 2010.
Elway -- who was hired by owner and close friend Pat Bowlen to bring stability to an organization that fired two head coaches in less than a two-year span -- is trying to fix the defense that was ranked last in the NFL last season and had a league-low 23 sacks in 2010. A team that is usually focused on offense hired Fox, one of the more respected defensive specialists in the NFL.

The Broncos zeroed in on several defensive players, including Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Auburn’s Nick Fairley. But in the team’s meetings, everything pointed to drafting Miller.

Denver concluded that Miller was the most sure of all the prospects. He starred on the field at Texas A&M. He had strong character. He stole the show during the Senior Bowl week. He blew away scouts at the combine with his size, speed and power. Elway told people his explosiveness was off the charts. And the Broncos marveled that someone could run like a cornerback while being built like a prototypical pass-rusher.

On the eve of the regular season, the Broncos are not regretting the pick. Big things are expected from Miller, including by ESPN’s panel of experts.

During training camp, I asked Fox about Miller’s development. He gave the typical coach party line that Miller was a work in progress. Then, I asked whether Miller’s ability was as advertised. Fox didn’t hesitate. “Oh yeah, he’s going to be a player,” Fox said.

Miller dominated the preseason. He had three sacks in limited action. He knocked down Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson four times in the third preseason game. Denver believes the pass-rush combination of defensive end Elvis Dumervil (who led the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009 before missing all of last season with a pectoral injury) and Miller will immediately improve the defense.

If the Broncos have any chance of beating the Raiders -- who won 59-14 in Denver last season -- Dumervil and Miller have to knock Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell onto the Mile High ground a few times.

Miller knows what is expected of him in Denver. He is not shying away from the task of changing the defensive atmosphere in Denver.

“I’ve been ready since a few weeks ago,” Miller said earlier this week. “Every week is game week for me, but these are the ones that are really going to count and you can definitely feel it in practice. It’s a little more tense.”

Miller, known for being a team-oriented player in College Station, has impressed the Broncos by acting like an undrafted free agent. He studies the playbook diligently and doesn’t act like he's already arrived. He is bent on fixing mistakes.

“Every week I have to take a step to get better and that is what I have been trying to do,” Miller said. “I feel as if there is still a lot of room to improve. I need to improve my practice habits. I could run a little bit better in the games and get my assignments down. I can get my assignments down; you can’t have a guy out there who is inconsistent. That is one of the things I’m working on now, getting my plays down and being there for my team in crunch time.”

Crunch time begins Monday night, as does a new defensive era in Denver.

“I like him a lot,” future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey said. “You can see every day why he was the No. 2 pick. I’m glad he’s the guy we took.”

Broncos minicamp observations

June, 11, 2010
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Notes and thoughts from the first day of Denver’s mandatory minicamp:

[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiTim Tebow had a rough day at camp on Friday, but coach Josh McDaniels still praised his progress.
First-round pick Tim Tebow struggled some. He threw two interceptions and was off target at times. Denver coach Josh McDaniels still praised Tebow’s progress in learning the system. However, Tebow showed it could be a lengthy process.

Meanwhile, McDaniels said he hasn’t made up his mind yet, but he is leaning toward keeping two quarterbacks active on the game-day 45-man roster because having more would “put us behind the eight ball at other spots.”

McDaniels said he hasn’t decided who his two quarterbacks would be if he goes that route. Currently, Kyle Orton is the starter, Brady Quinn is the backup and Tebow is third string. Even though Tebow has a long way to go, it would be a surprise if he is a game-day inactive.

Star linebacker Elvis Dumervil downplayed whether he will sign his restricted free-agency tender by Tuesday. Dumervil attended the minicamp, but didn’t do team drills.

“It is what it is,” Dumervil said repeatedly. “We’ll see what happens … Time will tell.”

McDaniels also downplayed it. He said the team sent a letter saying it would reduce Dumervil’s offer if he doesn’t sign his tender by Tuesday. McDaniels said the letter is a formality and he expects the situation to resolve itself.

Denver's other first-round pick, receiver Demaryius Thomas, had an up-and-down day. He made some nice grabs and ran some nice routes. But he also dropped some passes and struggled in some routes. McDaniels deemed it a “typical day” for a rookie. The Broncos expect Thomas, taken at No. 22, to contribute right away.

Linebacker Robert Ayers, a first-round pick in 2009, didn’t do much at all. McDaniels said it was a coaching decision. Ayers needs to bounce back from a weak rookie season.

Tight end Richard Quinn, a second-round pick in 2009, has dropped several balls in practice and he has been slow to develop.

Rookie offensive lineman Zane Beadles worked at left guard after working at tackle earlier in the offseason.

McDaniels praised the conditioning and leadership of veteran defensive tackle Jamal Williams, who signed with Denver after starring in San Diego for several years. McDaniels said he expects a big contribution from Williams.

McDaniels said linebacker Darrell Reid’s rehabilitation from knee surgery could extend into training camp.

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


Thanks to a mailbag question from Adam Tyer of San Diego, I thought I’d breakdown the Broncos and Chargers as they head into a pivotal AFC West game Monday night in San Diego.

The Broncos are 5-0 and lead San Diego (2-2) by 2.5 games. This isn’t a must-win for the Chargers, who always seem to play well when they have to, but it is close. The Chargers have games against Kansas City and Oakland after facing the Broncos, so they can get well in a hurry.

But it won’t be easy. Denver's 5-0 start is not a fluke. The team is much improved. Tyer wanted to know what I thought of Denver and San Diego by position. So, I rated the teams based mostly on 2009 performance. Here's who I think has the advantage at each position.

Quarterback: San Diego

Why: Philip Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Kyle Orton has been terrific, but Rivers is a franchise player.

Running backs: Denver

Why: The Chargers are ranked No. 32 in run offense. LaDainian Tomlinson is coming off an injury and has been unproductive. Denver running backs Correll Buckhalter and Knowshon Moreno have been very strong.

Wide receivers: Denver

Why: I love Vincent Jackson, but Denver is deeper at the position. Plus, Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal are really emerging.

Tight end: San Diego

Why: Antonio Gates is one of the best tight ends in the league. It’s that simple.

Offensive line: Denver

Why: The Broncos have an outstanding line, anchored by superstar left tackle Ryan Clady. The Chargers’ line misses injured center Nick Hardwick.

Defensive line: Denver

Why: I never thought I’d rank Denver’s defensive front over San Diego’s. But Denver’s no-name front three is setting the tone for a great defensive effort. San Diego is really missing tackle Jamal Williams, who is out for the year with a triceps injury.

Linebackers: Denver

Why: If I had to draft a unit, I’d likely take San Diego’s over Denver’s and this rating could change later in the year. But Denver’s defense has been so much better than San Diego’s in the first five games. Elvis Dumervil and D.J. Williams are both making Pro Bowl cases.

Secondary: Denver

Why: The Broncos’ defensive backs have been terrific. San Diego’s pass defense has suffered at times. It’s no contest at this point.

Special teams: San Diego

Why: The Broncos‘ special teams almost cost them the New England game. San Diego has several top notch players on this unit.

Coaching: Denver

Why: So far, the performance by head coach Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan have been the coaching story of the NFL.

Evening AFC West news and notes

October, 9, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

The Chiefs will honor former star running back Priest Holmes on Sunday prior to the game against Dallas.

Holmes finished his Kansas City career as the team’s all-time leader in rushing yards (6,070), rushing touchdowns (76), and total touchdowns (83). The city of Kansas City honored Holmes on Thursday. Holmes was a big part of the Kansas City community when he played there.

A Cowboy doesn’t think much of the Chiefs, apparently.

Oakland tight end Zach Miller is expected to play at the Giants on Sunday. He suffered a concussion last week.

Greg Garber has a great story on Denver pass rusher Elvis Dumervil on ESPN.com

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers talks about the issues facing his team in a radio interview.

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