AFC West: Jacques Cesaire

Click here for the complete list of San Diego Chargers' roster moves.

Most significant move: The Chargers cut former starting fullback (and special-teams ace) Jacob Hester and fellow running back Edwin Baker, a seventh-round pick. The Chargers will go with the likes of Ronnie Brown, Le’Ron McClain, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley early in the season if starter Ryan Mathews (broken clavicle) can’t play in the first couple of games. It was a no-brainer that the team kept kicker Nate Kaeding over Nick Novak. Kaeding, who was replaced by Novak after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 1 last year, was better than Novak in camp and in the preseason.

Onward and upward: The Chargers cut undrafted rookie quarterback Jarrett Lee. The team was high on him, but once again, the team is going with just two quarterbacks: starter Philip Rivers and backup Charlie Whitehurst. Lee is a likely candidate for the practice squad. I can see receiver Mike Willie being put on the practice squad as well. He has potential, but he lacked consistency. I could see Baker as a practice-squad candidate as well. I’d think Hester will get looks elsewhere because of his special-teams availability. Longtime defensive tackle Jacques Cesaire could potentially get looks as the season progresses; there is always a need around the league for a veteran big man. If the Chargers get in a bind, I could see them turning the popular Cesaire, who was a locker-room favorite.

What’s next: Because of injuries, expect the Chargers to look for help at cornerback, tackle, safety and perhaps receiver and running back. Because left tackle Jared Gaither and several cornerbacks are hurt, San Diego could be on the lookout for players who could actually be active in Week 1 at Oakland. One player I fully expect San Diego to target is cornerback Drayton Florence. He’d fit right in as a nickel. Denver cut Florence on Friday. He is a former Charger and San Diego tried to sign him before he went to Denver.
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Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

The San Diego defensive line has been kind of flat in recent years.

It lost a lot of talent and it hasn’t been a difference-making unit in the Chargers’ 3-4 set.

I think that is changing. There are some interesting young players on this unit that will help improve this group.

It starts with 2011 first-round pick Corey Liuget. The end has progressed and the Chargers are expected to unleash him. Young nose tackle Cam Thomas is an underrated player who is solid. Fellow young player Vaughn Martin is coming into his own and he is a strong rotational player.

Add players like veterans Antonio Garay, Luis Castillo, Jacques Cesaire and rookie Kendall Reyes (who has big-time potential) and this unit has plenty of talent to be a difference-maker right now.

Ranking the defensive linemen

June, 11, 2012
We continue our AFC West positional rankings with a very young and overly unproven group of defensive linemen:

1. Richard Seymour, Oakland: Seymour is aging, his play is slipping some and this may be his last year in Oakland. But he is still at the top of this list.

2. Elvis Dumervil, Denver: A dynamic pass-rusher who is a game changer.

3. Tommy Kelly, Oakland: Underrated player. He may play nose tackle in 3-4 looks.

4. Lamarr Houston, Oakland: A potential star has ability to take over.

5. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City: He was supposed to be great. He’s not, but he’s solid.

6. Matt Shaughnessy, Oakland: The Raiders missed this pass-rusher when he was injured last year.

7. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City: See Dorsey.

8. Robert Ayers, Denver: He became a solid player against the run last season.

9. Corey Liuget, San Diego: The Chargers expect big things from him in his second season.

10. Dontari Poe, Kansas City: Let’s see what this immensely talented rookie can do.

11. Cam Thomas, San Diego: An underrated player. He has a real future.

12. Antonio Garay, San Diego: It was important that the Chargers re-signed this rotational standout.

13. Vaughn Martin, San Diego: The Chargers think he has a chance to flourish soon.

14. Derek Wolfe, Denver: The second-round pick will be given the chance to make an instant impact.

15. Justin Bannan, Denver: A valuable rotational piece.

16. Luis Castillo, San Diego: The Chargers think he can still help.

17. Dave Tollefson, Oakland: A valuable backup on a strong line.

18. Jacques Cesaire, San Diego: The veteran is heady and he can make plays.

19. Desmond Bryant, Oakland: A solid part of the Raiders’ line.

20. Ty Warren, Denver: The Broncos hope he can make an impact after missing the past two seasons.

21. Kevin Vickerson, Denver: He gained weight to help in the middle.

22. Jason Hunter, Denver: A limited player, who has some play-making ability.

23. Allen Bailey, Kansas City: The Chiefs think he can develop quickly.

24. Kendall Reyes, San Diego: I wouldn’t be surprised if this second-round pick makes some plays right away.

Broncos' secondary getting healthier

December, 15, 2011
The Denver Broncos received good injury news Thursday. Starting defensive backs Brian Dawkins (neck) and Andre Goodman (concussion) practiced on a limited basis Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. Both players were hurt Sunday.

Thus, barring a setback, they both might have a chance to play Sunday against pass-happy New England. Also, receiver Eddie Royal -- who missed the Chicago game with a concussion -- practiced fully Thursday.

In other AFC West news:

As expected, Oakland running back Darren McFadden (foot), running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring), receiver Jacoby Ford (foot), defensive tackle John Henderson (knee) and safety Michael Huff (hamstring) all missed their second day of practice this week. Barring a fast recovery, it seems like these players will be out Sunday against Detroit.

Carolina receiver Steve Smith doesn’t think Tim Tebow compares to Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton. Newton has been much more polished than Tebow, but Tebow’s team has been much more successful than Newton’s.

ESPN columnist Rick Reilly asks readers to take their pick, Tom Brady or Tebow.

The Raiders’ have announced Sunday’s game against Detroit is a sellout. It is the seventh time in seven home games this season that there won’t be a local television blackout. The Oakland Tribune reports this is the first time since the Raiders came to Oakland 16 years ago that they sold out more than six home games in a season.

Chargers’ linebackers Donald Butler (foot) and Takeo Spikes (back) and defensive end Jacques Cesaire (ankle) missed their second straight day of practice Thursday.

Bob Sanders' body betrays him again

September, 28, 2011
You have to think Bob Sanders' NFL career is over.

[+] EnlargeBob Sanders
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireBob Sanders' NFL career may be over after being put on the injured reserve.
After playing just nine games total in the past three years for the Indianapolis Colts, Sanders' season with the San Diego Chargers ended after two games. Sanders, who missed Sunday’s game against Kansas City, was put on the injured reserve Wednesday because of a knee injury. That means four straight seasons have ended on the injured reserve for the hard-hitting, playmaking safety. He has played just 11 games since the 2007 season when he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

San Diego general manger A.J. Smith made it clear in a statement that the Sanders’ experiment is over in San Diego.

“All we wished for Bob was good health and hoped to turn him loose to do his thing, which was being one great, physical, highly-competitive player,” Smith said. “It didn’t work out for him or us, and we wish him the very best. He was with us a very short time, but made a positive impact with our team in many ways, and I’ll always appreciate that.”

The Chargers knew they were taking a chance on Sanders and the deal was very team friendly. But they liked Sanders and they wanted him to be a big part of the defense. They expected him and fellow safety Eric Weddle to create a special tandem.

When I spoke to Smith about Sanders, Smith said all Sanders needed was “health.” He didn’t get it. I met Sanders during the summer and he is easy to root for. He said he was due for some good health and he was thrilled to get the chance in San Diego. When healthy this summer, Sanders was fast and he looked good.

But, in the end, his body betrayed him again.

The Chargers, who are getting used to injuries, will use Steve Gregory with Weddle along with some other young players. Gregory is serviceable, but a healthy Sanders could have been special.

Meanwhile, the Chargers brought in another veteran defender. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris replaces Sanders on the roster.

Harris was cut both by Chicago and Indianapolis this year. The Chargers want a veteran to fill the gap in the rotation for the next few weeks. Luis Castillo will be out for several weeks with a broken leg and Jacques Cesaire will be out for several weeks with a knee injury. Rookie defensive wend Corey Liuget missed last week’s game with an ankle injury. He was practicing some Wednesday. Still, it is not known if he can play against the Dolphins. The Chargers will take anything Harris can give him at this point.

McFadden's injury is not serious

September, 26, 2011
The Oakland Raiders got good injury news the day after their biggest win in years.

Oakland coach Hue Jackson said he is not worried about the groin injury that caused star running back Darren McFadden to leave the Raiders’ 34-24 win over the New York Jets in the fourth quarter. That backs up what McFadden said Sunday.

That’s fantastic news for Oakland, which is heading into a huge game against visiting New England on Sunday. McFadden leads the NFL with 393 rushing yards. Also, receiver Jacoby Ford may soon be back. He’s missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. An interesting receiving crew will only get better with Ford in the picture.

In other AFC West nuggets upon my arrival home from San Diego on Monday:

The last time Mark Sanchez was in Oakland, in 2009, he left with a full belly and a win. Sunday, he left with a slightly broken nose and a loss. No hot dog for you, sir.

The already thin Chargers’ defensive front took a hit when Jacques Cesaire was lost for, at least, two games. Watch for the Chargers to look to someone who can play in the rotation while Cesaire is out.

New Denver coach John Fox is being questioned in Denver after a key fourth-quarter call backfired in a loss at Tennessee Sunday. Does this mean Fox was the wrong hire? Of course not. It just means he missed a call. Onto the next game. You can already see Fox’s toughness is rubbing off on his team. The Broncos are already improved on defense.

Monday, Fox didn’t hide from talking about the call.

“I think we have to coach it better; we’ve got to execute it better,” Fox said. “As I’ve mentioned many times, we’re still learning about our team. We could be sitting here 3-0, or we could be sitting here 0-3. We’ve had two three-point games and one two-point game. The reality is we’ve won one of them, and in the fourth quarter in both the first game and the most recent game, we didn’t make those plays; in the Cincinnati game, we did. Yesterday was no different. If you’re in the fourth quarter, first-and-goal at the two up 14-10, and you’ve got an opportunity to make it 21-10, as I mentioned yesterday, I’d do it again. Hopefully we execute it better, and then with a 14-10 lead, you can’t let an opponent go 95 yards and get the winning score. At the end of the day, it’s on all of us.”

Todd Haley is keeping the faith in Kansas City.

The Broncos took Sunday’s loss as hard as any in recent memory.

The Raiders got tricky Sunday in their win over the Jets. When you have speed players like the Raiders do, trick plays can be a serious weapon. Expect the Raiders to unleash the magic tricks often this season, which will sure worry defensive coordinators to no end during the week.

Quentin Jammer out with an injury

September, 25, 2011
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers will have to play the rest of the game without standout cornerback Quentin Jammer. He has a hamstring injury. The team announced he will not return.

That has to be worrisome for San Diego, which is dealing with a lot of injuries. When it is determined so soon after the injury that a player won’t return, it is an indication that the injury could be serious. Dante Hughes and Marcus Gilchrist will play more for the Chargers.

Meanwhile, the Chargers responded to the Chiefs’ touchdown with a nifty, seven-play, 80-yard drive culminated by a short touchdown run by Ryan Mathews. San Diego leads 17-7 midway through the third quarter.

UPDATE: San Diego defensive end Jacques Cesaire went to the locker room with a knee injury. He is questionable to return. He is playing for Luis Castillo, who is out for several weeks with a broken leg.

UPDATE: The post-game expectation is that Jammer should be able to play next week.

San Diego Chargers suffer key injuries

September, 11, 2011
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers' 24-17 comeback win over the Minnesota Vikings didn’t come without a cost.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports kicker Nate Kaeding -- who was hurt on a Percy Harvin touchdown return on the opening kickoff -- may have a torn ACL.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports defensive end Luis Castillo has a broken tibia. He will be out a significant amount of time, if not for the season.

Running back Mike Tolbert, who scored all three of San Diego’s touchdowns Sunday, has a knee injury. But it isn’t considered serious.

The Kaeding and Castillo injuries are of concern for the Chargers. The Chargers will need to sign a kicker and Jacques Cesaire and Vaughn Martin will play more for the Chargers now.

AFC West links: Praising Tamba Hali

May, 27, 2011
Denver Broncos

The Broncos have a new television partner. KUSA-9, the NBC affiliate in Denver, will televise the Broncos' preseason games as well as a weekly program with John Elway.

Denver Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little will be taking a new job as a special assistant at his alma mater, Syracuse.

Kansas City Chiefs

Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora had some words of praise for Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali.

Oakland Raiders

About 25 Oakland Raiders worked out at a suburban Atlanta swimming pool as part of a minicamp organized by defensive tackle Richard Seymour. takes a look back at the 12 highest-scoring regular-season games in franchise history.

San Diego Chargers

Jacques Cesaire still wants to be a Charger, even though the team drafted his eventual replacement in Corey Liuget. "I look at it like if I do come back to the Chargers, if they want me back, I got a new brother," Cesaire said. "The last guy the Chargers drafted in the first round to replace me, I ended up being in his wedding."

Does the signing of Bob Sanders prior to the lockout make fellow safety Eric Weddle expendable?

Early Friday thoughts

April, 29, 2011
Some early Friday thoughts as we prepare for Friday night’s action:

The Kansas City Chiefs were the inspiration for the bungled mess between the Baltimore Ravens and the Chicago Bears. The Ravens were on the clock at No. 26, Kansas City was at No. 27 and Chicago was at No. 29. The Ravens and Bears were trying to finalize a trade, but time expired on the Ravens. The Bears admitted that it was their fault.

The Chiefs jumped on the rare pass and took Pitt receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The Bears had to be relieved. They were trying to move ahead of the Chiefs because they wanted Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi and they thought Kansas City would take him. The Bears ended up with Carimi at No. 29.

Some were surprised that the Chiefs took Baldwin because he was considered by many as a second-round pick. But the Chiefs coveted Baldwin who will be the team’s No. 2 receiver. The Pitt product is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and is a polished receiver.

Kansas City coach Todd Haley has enjoyed success with another big receiver from Pitt in Arizona star Larry Fitzgerald. Haley can only hope Baldwin will develop into that type of weapon.

The Chargers’ selection of Illinois’ defensive end Corey Liuget at No. 18 very much means the end of the starting career of Jacques Cesaire in San Diego. Expect Liuget to be an instant starter.

Oakland coach Hue Jackson said the Raiders fielded plenty of calls in the first round but they didn’t see a trade that made sense. Jackson also took time to defend his habit of calling Oakland owner Al Davis, “Coach Davis.” He was recently criticized by a Bay Area columnist for using the term. My thoughts: Let Jackson call his boss whatever he wants.

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing rumors of New Orleans’ running back Reggie Bush going to his hometown of San Diego as a replacement for Darren Sproles. But like Sproles, Bush will be pricey.

AFC West union reps

March, 3, 2011
Some players in the AFC West are working hard. They aren’t on the field, but their current work is designed to get everybody back on the field. Let’s take a look at the AFC West union representatives:

Denver Broncos

Rep: Safety Brian Dawkins

Co-alternates: Guard Russ Hochstein and quarterback Kyle Orton

My thoughts: Dawkins has long been involved in the union. He is one of the most connected players in the NFL with the union. The Broncos will be well informed during this time of uncertainty.

Kansas City Chiefs

Rep: Center Rudy Niswanger

Co-alternates: Safety Jon McGraw and linebacker Andy Studebaker.

My thoughts: There isn’t much star power in this group. But all three representatives are well respected in the locker room.

Oakland Raiders

Rep: Tight end Zach Miller

Co-alternates: Linebacker Ricky Brown and quarterback Bruce Gradkowski

My thoughts: Miller is personally invested in this fight. He needs to know whether he’ll be an unrestricted or a restricted free agent when this dispute is settled.

San Diego Chargers

Rep: Center Nick Hardwick

Co-alternates: Defensive lineman Jacques Cesaire and tackle Jeromey Clary.

My thoughts: Hardwick has long been in involved in players’ rights. He’ll keep his teammates well informed.
This was a very difficult ranking and not because of all the top-notch talent. Actually, this group is not very deep and it includes several unknown commodities. It may become a strong group, but right now, this unit as a whole is a big question mark in the AFC West.

1. Richard Seymour, Oakland: Seymour is, by far, the best defensive lineman in this division. It’s not even close. Still, Seymour, who is entering his second season in Oakland, has plenty to prove. Seymour, 30, has to show he is still in his prime and he can bounce back from an inconsistent first season in Oakland.

2. Luis Castillo, San Diego: Castillo is a nice player. But he probably should be the second-best defensive lineman in a division. He’s solid, not great.

3. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City: This was tough. I guess I still believe in Dorsey. But he has to show more in this third NFL season. He was expected to be much better than he has shown so far.

4. Jacques Cesaire, San Diego: A solid journeyman. He should be lower on this list next year if other players develop as expected.

5. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City: Like Dorsey, Jackson has to show up better than his rookie season. He was nowhere near as productive as the No. 3 overall pick is expected to be. But he’s a hard worker and he should make strides in his second season.

6. Justin Bannan, Denver: This free-agent pickup is underrated. He’s versatile and he knows how to play winning football.

7. Jamal Williams, Denver: The former Charger may be on his last leg. But until he hangs it up, this massive nose tackle has to be respected.

8. Tommy Kelly, Oakland: Kelly is a big, well-paid man. But he is an underachiever.

9. Lamarr Houston, Oakland: Houston was drafted in the second round this year to help Oakland’s terrible run defense. The tackle looks like he will be very active.

10. Jarvis Green. Denver: This free-agent pickup is a decent pro. He’ll help Denver.

11. Vaughn Martin, San Diego: The second-year player is an interesting prospect. He is very raw, but talented.

12. Cam Thomas, San Diego: I like this fifth-round steal. Expect him to get a chance to replace Williams right away.

13. Wallace Gilberry, Kansas City: This is a diamond in the rough. Gilberry is a project who has nice pass-rush skills.

RFA Sproles shows in San Diego

March, 29, 2010
The Chargers announced that restricted free agent running back Darren Sproles was among the players who attended the start of the offseason conditioning program Monday.

This is impressive for two reasons. First, the program doesn’t begin for most veterans but the team said players such as Sproles, Philip Rivers, Jacques Cesaire, Jeromey Clary and Donald Strickland were among the early attendees.

Mostly, Sproles’ attendance is significant because is a restricted free agent. Many restricted free agents are staying away from the offseason programs because they haven’t signed their tender. Sproles likely signed an injury waiver to attend the program.

This is a good faith move by Sproles and it shows his commitment to the team.

Sproles is one of several players on whom San Diego placed the high tender of a first- and third-round pick. The others are Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill, Shawne Merriman and Malcom Floyd. It is unknown whether they will attend the program.
The release of defensive tackle Jamal Williams after 12 seasons with the team headlines the list of offseason moves the Chargers made Thursday.

Williams’ release isn’t totally shocking. He was due a roster bonus Friday and is coming off a triceps surgery that kept him out of all but one game last season. Williams will be 34 next month and has been wearing down in recent seasons.

Williams’ situation is not unlike the recent release of running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Williams was a fan favorite and had a great career in San Diego, but he could no longer be counted on. Williams, 6-foot-3, 348 pounds, was a superstar in his prime. He anchored the San Diego defense and clogged the interior of the defensive line.

San Diego, though, will have to act quickly to replace Williams. San Diego missed Williams’ run-stuffing ability all season. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Chargers look at nose tackle with the No. 28 overall pick in the draft. Alabama’s Terrence Cody could be targeted as a replacement for Williams.

San Diego announced free agent special teams ace Kassim Osgood “definitely” will not be returning. Osgood wants a chance to play receiver and he should get that chance in free agency. San Diego was never interested in letting Osgood play on offense.

It also released backup running back Michael Bennett. Even though San Diego put the high tender on change-of-pace back Darren Sproles, still expect it to try to pick up at least two running backs this offseason.

San Diego agreed to a two-year deal with defensive tackle Antonio Garay. He was scheduled to be a restricted free agent.

The Chargers also announced that several players have had or will soon have surgeries to address 2009 health issues. They said every player will be ready for training camp in late July. Here is the team’s list of players who needed surgery:

Surgery update Injury Rehab Time (from date of surgery)

LB Kevin Burnett Neck 3-5 months

DE Luis Castillo Shoulder complete

DE Jacques Cesaire Elbow, Knee complete

C Nick Hardwick Shoulder complete

DE Vaughn Martin Ankle 12 weeks

G Scott Mruczkowski Elbow 2-4 weeks

WR Legedu Naanee Foot 12 weeks

P Mike Scifres Bilateral hernia 6-12 weeks

S C.J. Spillman Shoulder 3-4 months

G Louis Vasquez Knee 6-8 weeks
The San Diego Chargers are resting several players Sunday against Washington.

The Chargers have the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

The team deactivated linebacker Shawne Merriman, receiver Vincent Jackson, safety Eric Weddle, defensive lineman Jacques Cesaire and receiver Legedu Naanee. All five players are dealing with nagging injuries. They should be fine to play in the postseason.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is expected to start, but he is expected to be spelled by Billy Volek.

Meanwhile, the Oakland Tribune is reporting receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and running back Justin Fargas are among the Raiders’ inactive players for Sunday’s game against Baltimore.