AFC West: Joe Barksdale

Gaither longshot to play Sunday

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
6:20
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San Diego left tackle Jared Gaither continued to practice on a limited basis and he hopes to play Sunday at Kansas City for the first time since injuring his back in July.

Still, San Diego coach Norv Turner told reporters that it would be “very difficult" for Gaither to play Sunday because of rust. If I had to guess, I bet we see Gaither at New Orleans in Week 5. The Chargers were extremely cautious with Ryan Mathews and I’d expect them to take the same approach with Gaither.

San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer practiced fully Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice with a thumb injury.

In other AFC West notes:
  • Denver guard Chris Kuper was limited in practice for the second straight day. He has been out six weeks with a broken forearm. He could be in a similar situation as Gaither and could be more likely to play next week when the Broncos travel to New England. Denver running back Willis McGahee practiced fully Thursday after being limited Wednesday with a ribs injury. He should play Sunday against Denver barring a setback. Linebacker Nate Irving remains out with a concussion he suffered Sunday.
  • As expected, Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey didn’t practice after suffering a concussion and being hospitalized after Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh. Heyward-Bey is likely on pace to return Oct. 14 at Atlanta after next week’s bye.
  • Kansas City receiver Steve Breaston was limited Thursday after not practicing with a knee problem Wednesday. Defensive end Glenn Dorsey was limited with a new calf injury.
  • Former Raiders Cliff Branch, Jim Plunkett and Ray Guy are now senior committee-eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That, frankly, will make their candidacy even more difficult. Just two senior committee players are nominated every year.
  • UPDATE: The St. Louis Rams were awarded tackle Joe Barksdale off waivers. He was waived by the Raiders on Wednesday. The Giants also reportedly but a claim in on Barksdale, but the Rams were awarded him based on their record. Barksdale was a third-round pick in 2011. But he didn’t fit the scheme of the new regime. I’m not surprised the Rams felt Barksdale was worth claiming and trying to develop. The Raiders signed pass-rusher Andre Carter when they dumped Barksdale.
It's official. Reggie McKenzie has cleaned out another coveted Al Davis draft pick.

The Contra Costa Times reported that offensive lineman Joe Barksdale was cut Wednesday. There were conflicting reports earlier in the day. Barksdale was a third-round pick in 2011. The late Al Davis traded his second-round pick in 2012 for a package in which Barksdale was the focal point.

To replace Barksdale, Oakland signed pass-rusher Andre Carter. I will have some thoughts on that signing shortly.

McKenzie, who replaced Davis as Oakland’s top decision maker, has cut higher-round 2011 picks this year. Barksdale joins join fellow 2011 draft picks DeMarcus Van Dyke (cornerback, third round) and Chimdi Chewka (cornerback, fourth round) off the roster, Chewka is on the Oakland practice squad.

There was a thought Barksdale would compete for the starting right tackle job this year, but he has been inactive all three games. With Khalif Barnes out with an injury, newly claimed Willie Smith has taken over instead of Barksdale.

Like former Davis draft choice Bruce Campbell (who was traded to Carolina by McKenzie), I don’t think the Raiders thought Barksdale fit the zone-blocking scheme.

I’d expect Barksdale to get a chance elsewhere. He can be claimed by Thursday. However, because it is late in the work week, I’m not sure a team would be willing to make a roster move at this point. So perhaps Barksdale will clear waivers.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is at the team’s facility and is undergoing concussion tests. The paper indicated Heyward-Bey will likely return Oct. 14 at Atlanta. The Raiders play at Denver this week and then have a bye.

I think everyone involved would accept Heyward-Bey missing one game after the terrible hit he took Sunday against Pittsburgh. Heyward-Bey spent Sunday night in a hospital for neck and concussion injuries. The Steelers’ Ryan Mundy was fined $21,000 for the hit.

Ryan Mundy fined for Heyward-Bey hit

September, 26, 2012
9/26/12
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Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy was fined $21,000 for a brutal hit on Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Heyward-Bey spent the night in a hospital with neck and concussion issues. He was released the next day and is expected to fully recover. There is no word on when he will be able to play. There was no penalty on the play.

In other AFC West news:

There was a report that Oakland cut second-year offensive lineman Joe Barksdale. However, the Contra Costa Times reports the Raiders said he is still on the roster. Yet, he is not on the practice field. The Oakland Tribune reports Barskdale was brining belongs to his car while practice was in session. This might be a fluid situation. If he is cut, the third-round pick would join fellow 2011 draft picks DeMarcus Van Dyke (cornerback, third round) and Chimdi Chewka (cornerback, fourth round) to be cut since the new regime in Oakland took over.

Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles was named the AFC offensive player of the week after he ran for 233 yards in an overtime win at New Orleans.

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said receiver Dexter McCluster will be limited in practice Wednesday. That is good news, because it looked like he suffered a serious elbow injury Sunday at New Orleans. It is not clear if McCluster can play Sunday, but the injury doesn’t seem serious.

Crennel said tight end Kevin Boss is still out with a concussion that kept him out of Week 3. Also, running back Peyton Hillis won’t practice because of an ankle injury.

Denver cornerback Tracy Porter is practicing Wednesday. He left Sunday’s loss to Houston with a knee injury.

Charles is the only AFC West representative on Mike Sando’s MVP Watch this week. He is No. 10. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers fell off the list after being No. 4 last week. That’s what scoring three points can do to a guy’s candidacy.

The Raiders announced receiver Tori Gurley has been signed to the practice squad. Gurley tweeted Tuesday that he was a Raider.
Weekend mail call:

Joseph McGeady from Berkeley, Calif., wants to know why I had Kansas City safety Eric Berry at No. 2 and San Diego safety Eric Weddle at No. 3 in my recent AFC West secondary rankings.

Bill Williamson: Joseph, I know you asking because Berry missed just about all of the 2011 season, his second in the league, after suffering a knee injury in Week 1. It is a valid question, but I still feel good about the choice. I think Berry is a top-end player -- who will come back and make an immediate presence. Ranking Weddle the No. 3 defensive back in the division is no knock. It’s a compliment. He’s a very good player, but I think Berry has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the NFL very soon.

Mikey from San Francisco wants to know if I think Oakland's Derek Carrier, an undrafted receiver from Beloit College, has a chance to make the 53-man roster this year.

BW: I think Carrier is probably headed to the practice squad. He is a tremendous physical presence -- 6-foot-3, 238 pounds -- and an interesting project. But he has to learn the pace of the NFL. The Raiders are loaded at receiver, so I believe Carrier needs to go through the practice-squad process. That has been the thinking all along.

Parker Keegan from Seattle wants to know if I think Khalif Barnes can be anything more than a stop-gap option at right tackle for the Raiders.

BW: Honestly, no, I think he is just a short-term solution. They will give Joe Barksdale a chance to beat him, but Barnes is in Oakland just for the short term. Yes, he has experience in the zone-blocking scheme, so he might have some value, but I don’t see him as a plus player.
AFC camp battles: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

An early look at the biggest training camp position battles:

DENVER BRONCOS

Safety: Quinton Carter versus Rahim Moore

The two 2011 draft picks will fight it out to play along with free-agent pickup Mike Adams. Carter and Moore rotated in the offseason. If draft status is an indication, Moore will have the inside edge. He was a second-round pick and Carter was a fourth-rounder.

However, if their short NFL careers are a factor, Carter will have the edge. He was better than Moore as a rookie. Still, the team likes Moore’s long-term potential. His biggest issue appears to be confidence. He made some mistakes and he didn’t recover from them last year. He has vowed to work on his mental game. No matter who wins the starting job, I expect both players to see the field often.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Backup quarterback: Brady Quinn versus Ricky Stanzi

This is one of the more intriguing battles in Kansas City. Quinn was signed to be the backup to Matt Cassel because of his experience. He played for Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel in Cleveland. It appeared that Stanzi, a fifth-round pick in 2011, was earmarked for another year as the third-stringer.

However, Stanzi was impressive during the offseason and he and Quinn rotated as Cassel’s backup during organized team activities. It seems Quinn still has the edge, but Stanzi will get a fair shake. If he shows he has big potential in camp and in the preseason and Quinn is below average, I can see Stanzi overtaking Quinn.

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Right tackle: Khalif Barnes versus Joe Barksdale

There are a few battles to watch in Oakland (including at tight end and at a cornerback spot), but this is a position to keep an eye on. Oakland’s offensive line is improving, but this is the weak area. Barnes has had his struggles, and some were surprised when he was re-signed. Oakland paid him enough to make it appear he will be given every opportunity to win the job.

Barksdale is a player the previous regime traded up to take in the draft last year. He has to show the new staff he can play in the zone-blocking scheme, which Barnes has some experience in. I think Barksdale will eventually take this job, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Barnes begins the season as the starter.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Kicker: Nate Kaeding versus Nick Novak

The Chargers decided early in the offseason they would let Kaeding and Novak engage in a good, old-fashioned kicking battle in training camp and the preseason. It should be fascinating to watch. These are two good kickers. I don’t think there is a favorite.

You’d think Kaeding would be the favorite because of his pedigree. However, after Kaeding went down for the season in Week 1 with a knee injury, Novak was terrific. If Kaeding can show he is fully healthy and he looks good, he could retake the job. But Novak will not give in easily. This battle should go the distance.
AFC hidden treasures: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

The Oakland offensive line has been a negative influence on the team in recent years. I don’t see it being a problem anymore.

I think this unit is still a work in progress and it is still far from elite, but it’s not a problem.

I really like young center Stefen Wisniewski and left tackle Jared Veldheer. The Raiders added solid guard Mike Brisiel from Houston. He is excellent in the zone-blocking scheme the Raiders are going back to, and he is a tough player. These are three strong pieces to the line. They are all athletic and tough. They will battle all day long.

Guard Cooper Carlisle is also adept in the zone-blocking scheme. At right tackle, Khalif Barnes will try to hold off second-year player Joe Barksdale.

Again, this isn’t a great unit, but there are some solid pieces and I don’t think the Raiders are overly worried about this being a problem area.
We are continuing our divisional position ranking with the offensive linemen. Overall, it is a young group with many players who have potential to move up in future years.

1. Eric Winston, T, Kansas City: Arguably the best right tackle in the NFL. The Chiefs scored major with this free-agent signing.

2. Ryan Clady, T, Denver: Clady’s sack and penalty numbers are up, but he is still an above-average player who should benefit from playing with Peyton Manning.

3. Nick Hardwick, C, San Diego: A strong, reliable player whom the Chargers absolutely had to re-sign.

4. Chris Kuper, G, Denver: Ask any scout about underrated players and Kuper is probably on every list.

5. Jared Veldheer, T, Oakland: The list is getting difficult here. I’m going with Veldheer as the second-best left tackle based on potential. It’s sky-high.

6. Jared Gaither, T, San Diego: If healthy, he can be dominant -- as he showed with the Chargers late last season.

7. Branden Albert, T, Kansas City: Solid, not spectacular, but you can do a lot worse and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Chiefs gave him an extension this season..

8. Stefen Wisniewski, C, Oakland: I like this second-year guard-turned-center a lot. A future star.

9. Mike Brisiel, G, Oakland: Tough, gritty player who is perfect for the zone-blocking offense.

10. Louis Vasquez, G, San Diego: A quiet, solid contributor.

11. Jeromey Clary, T, San Diego: A lot of Chargers fans don’t like him, but he gets the job done.

12. Jon Asamoah, G, Kansas City: This second-year starter looks solid.

13. Ryan Lilja, G, Kansas City: A tough vet who is probably entering his final season as a starter in Kansas City.

14. J.D. Walton, C, Denver: A tough, young starter who still needs to find consistency.

15. Zane Beadles, G, Denver: He has potential, but still needs to grow.

16. Orlando Franklin, T, Denver: He struggled some as a rookie, but there is big potential there.

17. Cooper Carlisle, G, Oakland: He keeps hanging around. The end may be near, but he can zone-block.

18. Rodney Hudson, C, Kansas City: He is poised to start for the first time, taking over for Casey Wiegmann. He could be very good.

19. Tyronne Green, G, San Diego: He is taking over for the great Kris Dielman, who retired. Green has been good as an injury replacement in the past.

20. Khalif Barnes, T, Oakland: He could lose his job to Joe Barksdale if he slips.
Denver is visiting with Houston tight end Joel Dreessen. He is a Colorado native. Denver is also talking to tight end Jacob Tamme, who played with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting Dreessen said he will choose between the Texans and Broncos by Friday morning. It will be interesting to see if Denver would want Dreessen and Tamme. The Broncos also have second-year players Julius Thomas (who they are high on) and Virgil Green, who faces a four-game NFL suspension for using a banned substance.

Meanwhile, cornerback William Gay visited the Broncos on Wednesday. The Broncos are bringing in Tracy Porter on Thursday. I think one of the two have a good chance to be signed.

In other AFC West news:

Because of the money Oakland paid Khalif Barnes, there is good reason to think he will start in 2012 ahead of second-year player Joe Barksdale.

Oakland fans must check out this video about Sebastian Janikowski.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Drew Stanton had a chance to be Kansas City’s backup before signing with the Jets. The Chiefs have since signed former Denver backup Brady Quinn.

NFL Network reports the Chiefs are visiting with cornerback Chris Carr. He would fill a depth role.
The Raiders have re-signed right tackle Khalif Barnes. He started all 16 games in Oakland last season. The team may opt to give second-year player Joe Barksdale a chance to start. Barnes will provide excellent depth and insurance if that ends up being the case.

NFL Network reports the Raiders brought in former Packers defensive back Patrick Lee on a one-year deal. He played for new Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie with the Packers. This move was strictly a depth and a special-teams signing.

The Colts have signed Oakland free-agent center Samson Satele. He was expected to return to Oakland. The Raiders are expected to move left guard Stefen Wisniewski to center and play former right guard Cooper Carlisle at left guard. Newly signed Mike Brisiel will play guard. Former Colts’ center Jeff Saturday is visiting Denver this week andmay be reunited with Peyton Manning.

In other AFC West news:

ESPNChicago.com is reporting Denver is visiting with former Chicago backup quarterback Caleb Hanie. The Colorado State product likely would be the No. 3 quarterback in Denver.

Former Kansas City receiver Joe Horn said the Chiefs had a bounty program when he was there and he said every NFL team has a program. I would be shocked if the NFL investigated the Chiefs based on Horn’s comments. He played for the Chiefs from 1996-99.

Camp Confidential: Raiders

August, 5, 2011
8/05/11
10:26
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NAPA, Calif. -- Hue Jackson doesn’t do anything slow.

He talks fast. He walks fast, and he coaches fast.

The Tom Cable put-your-toe-in-the-water-start-of-training-camp days are over.

There was no warm-up period to Camp Jackson. In his first camp as a head coach on any level, Jackson has not wasted any time. His team has been flying around the field and playing to the whistle on every play since the moment it stepped onto the pristine practice field in Wine Country last week.

Cable believed in getting into the groove of training camp slowly by holding glorified walk-through practices for the first few days while stressing the importance of the classroom. Jackson believes in teaching on the go.

Jackson sees a talented team in front of him, but he also sees a team that needs to block better on offense and tackle better on defense. It’s all about finishing plays on both sides the ball. If you don’t start, you can’t finish.

“It’s a fast game,” Jackson said. “We have to move fast. At all times.”

When they can catch their breath, Jackson's players can see the difference.

"This is totally different, totally different from last year," defensive tackle Tommy Kelly told reporters early in camp. "I mean, he made that plain and clear in the meetings when he was talking about what we had to do. … [Cable] wanted us to learn the stuff. But Hue ain't worrying about that. He just wants to go hard as you can. If you fall out, we'll put somebody else in there."

There is urgency in Oakland. The Raiders teased their fans with an 8-8 record in 2010 -- highlighted by an AFC West 6-0 sweep -- ending an NFL record of seven straight seasons of 11 losses of more. This young team has a chance to continue to improve. Jackson isn’t going to sit around and wait for it to happen.

“We got to go now,” Jackson said. “I talk to them every night about that.”

[+] EnlargeNnamdi Asomugha
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireThe Raiders will look to Chris Johnson and a host of young players to replace Nnamdi Asomugha.
THREE HOT ISSUES

1. How to replace Asomugha and Miller? The Raiders have to spend training camp trying to figure out how to replace two of their best players. Not many teams are dealing with that this summer. But the departures of star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to Philadelphia and tight end Zach Miller to Seattle create holes for the Raiders.

The Raiders gave Stanford Routt, formerly a part-time starter, No. 1 cornerback money in the offseason and expect him to take over for Asomugha. Oakland has reportedly toyed with signing another cornerback. But for now, veteran Chris Johnson and a host of young players, including draft picks DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa (who is currently injured), will be in charge of replacing Asomugha, who is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL. Safety Michael Huff, who just re-signed with the team, could also play cornerback in some situations.

The Raiders probably need to bring in a veteran receiver or a tight end. Right now, their starting tight end is Brandon Myers, who has 16 career catches. Miller was quarterback Jason Campbell’s favorite target, and he led the Raiders in receiving in 2010. He made the passing game go. A replacement must be established in camp. (Update: The Raiders added former Giants tight end Kevin Boss Friday.)

2. Is the offensive line ready? This has long been Oakland’s weakest spot, and Jackson vowed earlier this year to improve it. Finding a suitable unit will be a top goal in training camp. The team drafted Stefen Wisniewski in the second round, and he will start at center. Joe Barksdale was drafted in the third round, and he could battle Khalif Barnes at right tackle if he has a good camp. If second-year guy Bruce Campbell gets healthy quickly, he could make a push at guard, where the Raiders lost longtime starter Robert Gallery in free agency. The team wanted to sign left tackle Jared Gaither, but he is still dealing with back issues. This unit remains a work in progress.

3. Is Campbell ready to be consistent? This is Jason Campbell’s second season in Jackson’s system, and he is expected to make strides. He must show consistency in camp, and he must continue to grasp Jackson’s offense. He started slowly last season and was replaced. But he finished strong. Jackson is a believer in Campbell. Campbell needs to continue to build chemistry with his receivers and entrench himself as the leader of this offense.

CLEAN UP THE MESS

The Raiders have long been one of the most penalized teams in the NFL. It goes back to their golden era. Whether it is a cheap hit or a false start, the yellow flag is a familiar sight for the Silver and Black.

Jackson wants to end that part of Raiders lore.

The Raiders were ranked first in the NFL last season in accepted penalties with 604. It seems penalties have been overlooked in Oakland because it’s long been an issue. Jackson said he thinks that is nonsense. Playing clean football is an emphasis of this camp.

[+] EnlargeRaiders coach Hue Jackson
Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIREWhat does coach Hue Jackson think of the Raiders' penalty problems? "It's embarrassing. ... You can't win if you keep going backward," he says. "I've told the team it's got to stop. It's not cool at all."
“It’s over,” Jackson said. “It’s embarrassing. ... You can’t win if you keep going backward. I’ve told the team it’s got to stop. It’s not cool at all.”

DEFENSE STARTS UP FRONT

While the offensive line is still in flux, the Raiders are set on the defensive line. This camp is about establishing dominance for the group. If the Oakland defense improves despite Asomugha’s departure, the front four will be responsible.

There are several excellent pieces on the unit. It all starts with defensive tackle Richard Seymour. A likely future member of the Hall of Fame, Seymour is the best player on the team and the leader of his unit. Add Kelly, polished second-year player Lamarr Houston and run-stuffer John Henderson, and the Raiders are primed to dominate teams up front. Pass-rushers Matt Shaughnessy and Trevor Scott (if healthy) give this unit an important dimension.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Jackson has often lauded second-year linebacker Rolando McClain during camp. He said he thinks McClain has developed in the offseason, and McClain is expected to be a stalwart.
  • Running back Darren McFadden was spectacular during camp before he suffered a broken orbital bone. He is expected to miss two weeks. The Raiders expect him to make a serious Pro Bowl push. He and restricted free agent Michael Bush should be a good tandem again.
  • Second-year linebacker Travis Goethel could potentially push Quentin Groves at weakside, or Oakland could look for an upgrade elsewhere.
  • The team is excited about fifth-round receiver Denarius Moore. He is polished and very fast and has a chance to contribute. It will be interesting to see him in the preseason.
  • Seventh-round pick David Ausberry looks good as he makes the transition from receiver. He’s a project, but he has excellent size and speed.
  • Fourth-year receiver Chaz Schilens is finally healthy, and the Raiders think he can live up to his potential. But his health is the key.
  • Kelly looks tremendous. He is in great shape and looks primed to build upon his strong season.
  • Trent Edwards will be given every opportunity to beat out Kyle Boller as Jason Campbell’s backup.
  • Jackson said he thinks the Raiders fourth-round pick, speedster running back Taiwan Jones, could make his mark this season. It will be fun to watch him in the preseason.
ESPN’s John Clayton is reporting the Oakland Raiders have decided not to sign Baltimore tackle Jared Gaither. The team visited with him Friday and it was reported by multiple outlets that he agreed to terms.

I’d say the very likely reason why Gaither was not signed was his injured back. He missed all of last season with a back injury. Friday night, Oakland coach Hue Jackson, who coached Gaither in Baltimore, said they wanted to make sure he was healthy.

Instead, the Raiders agreed to a one-year deal to bring back Khalif Barnes. Clayton said Barnes is currently slated to start at right tackle. If third-round pick Joe Barksdale comes on strong, perhaps he’ll join Jared Veldheer as a starter.

Barnes started three games for Oakland last season.

When healthy, Gaither is a better player than Barnes. So, this turn of events is a dose of bad news for the Raiders, who are trying to fix their problems on the offensive line. Perhaps when healthy, the Raiders will revisit signing Gaither, but for now, it appears they are going in another direction.

Terms of the Barnes deal weren’t available, but the one-year contract, the source said, was worth more than the minimum salary because they brought back Barnes to start at right tackle. They haven’t re-signed tackle Mario Henderson.
It’s been a wild Friday evening involving the Raiders.

They lost superstar cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to the Eagles and they have, apparently, shored up their offensive line by adding Baltimore tackle Jared Gaither. It had been reported earlier, but Gaither’s agent denied it. Yet, The Associated Press is now reporting the team announced the agreement.

It’s a solid move by the Raiders. Prior to the draft, coach Hue Jackson –- who coached Gaither in Baltimore -- said improving the line was the team’s biggest priority. There’s no doubt it is the team’s weak spot.

Oakland has done a nice job addressing it. It drafted starting center Stefen Wisniewski in the second round and added LSU tackle Joe Barskdale in the third round.

But with Gaither apparently coming in, the starting tackles will be Gaither and second-year player Jared Veldheer. The two Jareds are mammoth men. Gaither is 6-foot-9, 340 pounds and Veldheer is 6-8, 340. The Raiders would dominate the winter basketball circuit.

Gaither is experienced at left tackle, while Veldheer finished last season at the spot. One of the two will move to the right side. Both players have a chance to grow into very good players.

Gaither is known as a rising talent at the position, although some scouts believe he has played a little too stiff. He missed all of last season with a back injury but is healthy now. If he can stay on the field, Veldheer can continue to mature and Wisniewski can catch on quickly, then the Raiders’ offensive line woes may be a thing of the past.

UPDATE: Jackson said Gaither is on a free-agent visit and he has not signed yet. Yet, another twist.
The Oakland Tribune had two interesting nuggets about the Raiders. They wanted Chad Ochocinco and they are the first AFC West team to have signed all of their draft picks.

The Oakland Tribune wrote that the Boston Herald reported that New England, San Francisco and Oakland all asked permission to talk to Ochocinco before Cincinnati traded him to the Patriots.

It’s not a shock. Ochocinco and Oakland coach Hue Jackson have a history together and it was known in league circles they’d like to work together.

Most importantly, it shows the Raiders are interested in adding a veteran receiver and they want outside help. Maybe Ochocinco was a special circumstance since Jackson is so comfortable with him. But I think we need to keep an eye on the Raiders when it comes to veteran receivers.

Meanwhile, the team signed third-round pick, tackle Joe Barksdale. That means the entire Oakland draft class is signed and ready for training camp. The Raiders have a reputation for getting their rookies signed quickly, and this is just one less thing for Oakland to worry about as it starts camp.
The Oakland Tribune has reported the Raiders have signed second-round pick Stefen Wisniewski and have just one more pick to sign, third-round pick Joe Barksdale. He is in Napa and waiting to sign. The Raiders start practice this afternoon. Wisniewski, Oakland’s first pick, is expected to start at center.

He is the nephew of former Oakland offensive lineman Steve Wisniewski, who is an assistant offensive line coach in Oakland. The family has been waiting for this reunion to officially start.

In other AFC West nuggets:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on "SportsCenter" the New Orleans Saints could make a run at versatile San Diego running back Darren Sproles now that they traded Reggie Bush to Miami. Sproles would fill Bush’s role in New Orleans.

I haven’t heard Sproles’ name much in the past two days, but because of his ability to rush the ball, receive the ball and return it, he does have value. The Chargers are getting tight against the cap after all their moves and they were resigned to letting Sproles leave. But if the market doesn’t develop for him, perhaps San Diego will revisit him. Yet, the opening in New Orleans could change Sproles’ market quickly.

As expected, Tennessee will cut quarterback Vince Young on Thursday. I could envision his name connected to Oakland in a backup role. But the Raiders do like Kyle Boller.

Denver safety Renaldo Hill was not at the Broncos’ first training camp practice. It could mean the team is planning to cut him later Thursday.

AFC West notes

June, 6, 2011
6/06/11
2:20
PM ET
An early Monday afternoon look at AFC West headlines:

John Clayton looks at whether Denver quarterback Kyle Orton would be a good fit in Seattle in his mailbag.

Here’s another connection of DeAngelo Williams and the Denver Broncos. My thoughts? If Williams is an unrestricted free agent, I fully expect the Broncos to make a big run at him. New Denver coach John Fox liked Williams when he coached him and he knows he’d help upgrade a weak unit in Denver.

Here’s another reason why Jamaal Charles is a top running back. The guy's numbers are silly good.

Oakland rookie tackle Joe Barksdale is aiming to start right away. I think he could get the chance.

The Denver Post looks at the Broncos’ needs. And there’s a lot of them.

Denver quarterback Tim Tebow has been popular as he hawks his new book.

Former Charger running back LaDainian Tomlinson, in the San Diego area for a clinic, talks about his new life as a New York Jet.

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