AFC West: Erik Pears

Three key players out for Oakland

September, 19, 2010
9/19/10
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Around the AFC West:

The Raiders will be without running back Michael Bush (broken thumb), offensive lineman Robert Gallery (hamstring) and defensive lineman Richard Seymour (hamstring) against St. Louis. All three players were not doing much all week, so this was expected. Bush didn’t play last week, either.

Still, these are three of Oakland’s better players. Oakland will be further challenged to rebound from a poor performance in Tennessee in Week 1

The Broncos’ offensive line is in shambles.

Right tackle Ryan Harris (ankle) and right guard Chris Kuper (ankle, knee) will not play Sunday against Seattle. Harris and Kuper are two of Denver’s most stable players. Harris will be spelled by rookie Zane Beadles and veteran Russ Hochstein will play for Kuper. The team’s center, J.D. Walton, is a rookie.

The Raiders cut offensive lineman Erik Pears for the second time this month and signed seventh-round draft pick Stevie Brown form the practice squad.

The speculation is already out there that Tom Cable’s job could be in jeopardy if the Raiders lose to the Rams Sunday. My reaction: Sure, I can believe it.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Denver thought about signing running back Willie Parker before dealing for Laurence Maroney.

Dexter McCluster honored

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
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Afternoon AFC West notes:

Kansas City rookie Dexter McCluster was named the AFC special teams player of the week. The second-round pick had a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Chiefs’ 21-14 upset win over San Diego. It was a team record.

Kansas City has placed fifth-round pick Cameron Sheffield on the injured reserve, ending his season. Sheffield was carried off the field on a stretcher with a neck injury in the preseason last month and he spent a night in the hospital. But he was walking with feelings on all of his extremities when he was released from the hospital.

Kansas City signed linebacker Charlie Anderson to replace Sheffield. Anderson has seven starts in the past six seasons with Houston and Miami. He should provide immediate depth in Kansas City,

ESPN.com’s rookie watch features San Diego’s Ryan Mathews at the top and Kansas City’s Eric Berry on the bottom of the top-10 list.

Oakland has brought back Erik Pears in its attempt to help a weak offensive line.

Cable acts as if Bush will play

September, 8, 2010
9/08/10
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If Tom Cable can be believed (and what NFL coach can be trusted about injuries these days?), Michael Bush may have a chance to play Sunday in Oakland’s season opener at Tennessee.

Bush broke his left thumb against San Francisco on Aug. 28. A return to the field Sunday would be fast, but perhaps Bush will be able to play in some role. The Oakland Tribune reported that he departed the field Wednesday morning after a walk through practice with a small bandage and splint on his thumb. Thus, he is showing improvements. Still, Bush will have to prove he can hold onto the ball and block and catch effectively before getting the green light to play.

But according to the Oakland Tribune, Cable acted as if Bush will be available to play when speaking to the Tennessee media on Wednesday.

“First of all, I didn’t know Michael Bush was out. But if Darren (McFadden) is playing, we have high expectations for him as well as Mike.”

Cable then added, “I think we’ve got two good running backs. I expect good things from both guys, they both can run and catch and block. I think they give us something—both of them.”

It sounds promising, but injury gamesmanship has become a big part of the NFL week. So, we probably won’t know for certain if Bush is going to play or not until Sunday prior to the game.

Meanwhile, Oakland cut tackle Erik Pears to make room for defensive lineman Jay Alford. Pears’ departure weakens an already thin line.

Chiefs and Raiders notes

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
2:00
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

  • According to ESPN Stats & Information, three AFC West players are a part of the group tied with four false start penalties. They are Oakland’s Erik Pears and Cornell Green and Kansas City’s Brian Waters. Green is currently injured and has missed one game.
  • The 1969 Kansas City Chiefs, who won Super Bowl IV, are being honored at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
  • The Kansas City Star cites Kolby Smith as a possible answer for the Chiefs’ horrid running game when he returns soon from an injury. Starter Larry Johnson is averaging 2.4 yards per carry.
  • There is a chance Oakland will get receiver Chaz Schilens back from a broken foot on Sunday against Philadelphia. Schilens has been out for eight weeks. Schilens had a strong preseason and his presence could spark a weak offense.

Evening AFC West news and notes

September, 23, 2009
9/23/09
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


Denver receiver Brandon Marshall is saying everything is good in Denver and he is happy with his current situation. He is a rotational player these days despite catching 206 balls the past two seasons.

Marshall has tried to put on a happy face during the past few months. He didn’t practice Wednesday because of an illness.

Former Broncos offensive lineman Erik Pears will start at Robert Gallery’s left guard spot against Denver on Sunday. Gallery is out four to six weeks with a broken fibula.

Javon Walker still wants to be a factor in Oakland, but will he?

In the NFL MVP Watch on ESPN.com, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is No. 7.

Former Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon continued to be critical of the Raiders on his Sirius NFL Radio show. His target was current Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who has struggled with his accuracy in the first two games of the season. Here’s what Gannon had to say:
“A couple of things are very glaring. I think you see a lot of times he falls away from throws. He seems to bail. I think a rush up inside bothers him. He needs to get more bend in his knees when he throws. He’s very upright and not a lot of bend in his knees. It may have something to do with his weight. He seems to be more comfortable operating out of shotgun than he does under center. He doesn’t do a very good job seeing out in front of throws and I think that comes with experience, really understanding and anticipating coverages. So that’s not something he does. When you look at the offensive game plan, the passing game, I think they’ve condensed the plan. It’s not very complicated. Fundamentally, right now, he is not very sound. His mechanics, his footwork, it’s inconsistent.”

Cable says tackle is top need

March, 24, 2009
3/24/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

DANA POINT, Calif. - Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable made it clear Tuesday at the AFC's coach's availability that tackle will be the team's top need in the draft.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean the Raiders will select a tackle with their first pick, which is the No. 7 overall pick.

Cable, whose area of expertise is the offensive line, said that this draft class is particularly strong at tackle. He said he believes teams can pick up a tackle that will make an impact as a rookie in the first three rounds. Last year's tackle class was ballyhooed but it was top heavy. This year's class, Cable reasons, is deeper.

Thus, while he didn't come out and say it, Cable may not feel the pressure to pull the trigger on a tackle in the first round.

"We could but we don't have to," Cable said.

The Raiders have options because solid tackle and receivers, their biggest need, are expected to be available when Oakland picks in the first round.

Asked if he could see Oakland taking a top receiver (the best available are Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Missouri's Jeremy Maclin) Cable responded by saying "I can see us going that way too."

It is clear Oakland will address both tackle and receiver in the early rounds but exactly when, is the question.

Cable said he likes where his tackle situation is going after the addition of Khalif Barnes and Erik Pears in free agency and the late-season emergence of Mario Henderson. But Cable said he thinks he still needs help there. He also said he likes the Raiders' core of young receives, starting Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens and he believes veteran Javon Walker can be productive if stays healthy. Still, Cable wants to add another receiver.

Other areas of need he said include a complementary tight end to backup Zach Miller and defensive front help.

But tackle is the top priority, Cable says. Still, because but that doesn't mean it will be the position Oakland addresses first.

A look at the Broncos' free agents

January, 17, 2009
1/17/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

We will look at each team in the AFC West's free agent standing. We will do in alphabetical order starting with Denver

Key unrestricted free agents: Defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban; quarterback Patrick Ramsey; running back Michael Pittman. The Broncos are in pretty good shape. There are no real pressing needs but the team would like Ramsey back.

Key restricted free agents: Backup offensive lineman Erik Pears.

Dream free agent match: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The Broncos need a dominant force on the defensive front. Haynesworth is the premier player available.

Catching up on AFC West news

October, 27, 2008
10/27/08
10:20
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

I just returned from New Jersey where I was covering the Chiefs and Jets on Sunday. There is plenty of going on in the AFC West this evening.

Let's get caught up:

In Kansas City, it appears Larry Johnson, who was charged with assault stemming from an incident earlier this month, will not play. The team has kept Johnson inactive the last two games because of his off-field issues. He is scheduled to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday. It likely is a step towards a suspension by the league.

However, in an e-mail sent to the Kansas City Star and the Associated Press, general manager Carl Peterson indicated that Johnson won't soon see the field.

"As we have previously indicated, it is in the best interest of both Larry and the Chiefs that Larry focuses his attention on addressing his personal issues. At present, we do not believe Larry can contribute to our team on the field until those issues are resolved," Peterson said.

It could be a while before Johnson sees the field. Obviously, the Chiefs aren't finished punishing him and he will likely get suspended by the league.

The 1-6 Chiefs only have nine games remaining this season. Will Johnson miss all of November? Will it be worth it to bring him back for the final month? Is his Kansas City career over?

If Johnson doesn't play for the Chiefs again this season, it would be a reasonable assumption that his days in Kansas City would be at an end. He will be 29 next month and he has plenty of wear and tear. The Chiefs may want to cut ties to Johnson and he would likely welcome a fresh start elsewhere, especially if his punishment continues.

Monday's statement by Peterson could easily be the beginning of the end for Johnson in Kansas City.

Meanwhile, Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said quarterback Daunte Culpepper is not necessarily coming in for a visit this week. Edwards said the team and Culpepper continue to talk. Perhaps Tyler Thigpen's excellent showing in the Chiefs' 28-24 loss at the Jets on Sunday lessened the urgency to acquire a veteran quarterback. Thigpen, who completed his first 10 passes of the game Sunday, threw for 280 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and he was not intercepted in what was his second career start. Still, this is a situation worth keeping an eye on.

Meanwhile in Oakland, the Raiders lost fullback Justin Griffith for the season. He suffered a knee injury in Sunday's loss at Baltimore. The Raiders raided the Bears' practice squad to fill the spot.

Griffith will be missed. He is a fine blocker and a good locker room influence. Luke Lawton is the only true fullback in Oakland.

In Denver, the Broncos made several roster moves to fulfill the voids opened by season-ending injuries to linebacker Boss Bailey (knee), quarterback Patrick Ramsey (elbow) and tackle Erik Pears (non-football injury).

As expected, Denver signed receiver Chad Jackson. The signing has been in the works for several days. Jackson was a second-round pick by New England in 2006. He was cut by the Patriots after the preseason. Denver wanted Jackson in the draft. He will be a backup for Denver and will likely be a fourth or fifth receiver.

Denver also signed former Buffalo offensive lineman Matt Murphy and promoted cornerback Josh Bell from the practice squad. Cornerback Rashod Moulton and center Greg Eslinger were signed to the practice squad. Eslinger was a draft choice of Denver's in 2006. The team hoped he would be the center of the future but he has yet to develop.

Broncos, Chiefs make moves

October, 22, 2008
10/22/08
3:37
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Broncos and the Chiefs made some moves Wednesday.

Denver put linebacker Boss Bailey and quarterback Patrick Ramsey on the injured reserve. Bailey will need microfracture surgery on his knee. He suffered the injury in the 41-7 loss at New England on Monday night. Ramsey was injured while spelling starter Jay Cutler in the second quarter. He has an elbow injury.

Backup offensive lineman Erik Pears was put on the on the reserve/non-football illness list after he had an emergency appendectomy.

Denver, at this point, is not expected to add a quarterback. Darrell Hackney will be promoted from the practice squad and he will be Cutler's backup.

Meanwhile, a source close to the situation said the Broncos are closing in on signing receiver Chad Jackson. His signing could be official in the next few days. Jackson, cut by New England this summer, worked out with Denver earlier this month. The Broncos liked Jackson when he came into the league as a second-round draft choice in 2006. Denver also may try to add a veteran safety soon.

In Kansas City, the Chiefs signed quarterback Quinn Gray to replace the injured Brodie Croyle. Gray worked out Tuesday. The team had talked to the retired Daunte Culpepper, but talks didn't progress.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

DENVER -- The injury-barraged San Diego Chargers may have gotten a break.

Both running back LaDainian Tomlinson and cornerback Antonio Cromartie are active for today's game between the Chargers and the Broncos. Both players were listed as questionable on the injury report heading into the game.

Both players did practice fully Friday, though. Tomlinson has a turf toe problem and Cromartie had a hip issue. Both players were hurt in last week's loss to Carolina.

If Tomlinson is affected by the injury, Darren Sproles and rookie Jacob Hester will run the ball for the Chargers in what is a crucial game against the 1-0 Broncos. First-round pick Antoine Cason will spell Cromartie if he can't go.

The Chargers continue to play without standout offensive linemen Nick Hardwick (foot) and left tackle Marcus McNeill (neck). Both players missed last week as well. Jeremy Newberry starts for Hardwick at center and L.J. Shelton plays for McNeill at left tackle.

San Diego's other inactive players are cornerback DeJuan Tribble, linebacker Anthony Waters, guard Kynan Forney, tight end Kris Wilson, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and Charlie Whitehurst is the emergency quarterback.

For Denver, its inactive players are safety Hamza Abdullah, running back Ryan Torain. linebacker Louis Green, tackle Erik Pears, center Tom Nalen, receiver Darrell Jackson, defensive tackle Nic Clemons and defensive end Jarvis Moss.

This is the second straight healthy scratch for Moss, Denver's first-round pick last year. The Broncos have plans for Moss but Denver doesn't think Oakland and San Diego were good match-ups for the slender pass rusher. However, if you are a first-round pick, match-ups shouldn't play a part on whether you are active or not.

Jackson was added to the injury report Saturday with a calf injury.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

OAKLAND -- In addition to Javon Walker, there are other inactive players for Oakland.

Oakland's inactives: Receiver Todd Watkins, safety Rashad Baker, defensive end Kalimba Edwards, center John Wade, tackle Mario Henderson and third quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo. Edwards is injured.

Denver's inactives: Safety Calvin Lowry, running back Ryan Torain, linebacker Louis Green, tackle Erik Pears, center Tom Nalen, guard Dylan Gandy, defensive end Jarvis Moss and defensive tackle Josh Shaw.

The only surprise is Moss. He had no reported injury, making this is a surprising move. The 2007 first-round pick finished last season injured but Oakland was expecting a lot from him this year. Yet, Moss was unproductive in the preseason. If Moss was a healthy scratch for this game, it would not bode well for Moss on a defense that hungry for a pass rush.

Casey Wiegmann continues to start for Nalen, who is coming off a knee injury. Nalen may be back in the coming week.

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