AFC West: Jonathan Stewart

Here are some highlights of our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:

Denver

Chad from Mile High: I love Champ, but is it time to make the transition to safety for him? Chris Harris is beginning to become a player and Tony Carter is making a name for himself as well. It is sad to say but watching him a step or two behind these younger WR's is not encouraging for the secondary.

Bill Williamson: The Broncos don't feel like it's time yet. Maybe next year, but it very likely won't happen this year. Champ will stay a starting corner.

Kansas City

Rich from Norfolk: Most of the Chiefs following want Geno Smith in the draft. Would he be a good fit in Any Reid's system?

BW: Do they want Geno Smith or do they just want a QB? I think some fans are so hungry for a young guy, they want the best guy available whether he is worthy or not .If Smith proves himself to be a top prospect in the next two months, I’m all for the Chiefs taking him. If he doesn't, I don't think he should be taken just because of need.

Oakland

Ryan from Lake Tahoe: With Tony Sparano being paired with DMAC, will we see any wildcat in Oakland this year?

BW: The Wildcat is kind of yesterday's news. But Sparano has a history with it and McFadden used it in college, if it can help the Raiders, why not? I can see it being part of the package, at least. But I'd think it would be more of a complement to the game plan rather than being the primary run attack.

San Diego

Casey from Oakhurst CA.: Hey Bill. We love the blog up here in Oakhurst. The Chargers need a big dependable back like they had in Mike Tolbert. What names may become available that would interest the new front office? I read that Chris Ivery from New Orleans could be a cap casualty. Could you see them targeting him?

BW: Yeah, I can see a guy like Ivery being a fit there. They will be looking for those types of guys. Remember, McCoy comes from Carolina before Denver so if a Williams or a Stewart became available, they could be possibilities as well.

 

AFC West notes

March, 20, 2012
3/20/12
12:30
AM ET
ESPN’s Josina Anderson is reporting Denver has re-signed special teams ace Wesley Woodyard to a two-year contract. He will also be a backup linebacker.

Former Oakland pass-rusher Kamerion Wimbley is reportedly close to signing a five-year deal with Tennessee. Oakland cut him in a salary-cap dump Friday.

If the Panthers end up trading running backs DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart because of the Mike Tolbert addition, I could see Denver potentially showing interest. Denver is in the market for a running back and Denver head coach John Fox used to be in Carolina.

UT San Diego reports there will not be a reunion with LaDainian Tomlinson and Kassim Osgood in San Diego. The Tomlinson decision is not surprising at all, but I thought the Chargers would consider Osgood.
I caught up with NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas to discuss which players from Carolina could end up in Denver with new Denver coach John Fox.

Let’s talk a look:

Receiver Steve Smith: The Panthers could trade Smith and he is close with Fox and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who was with the Panthers before Denver. But Denver is in good shape at receiver, so the aging Smith may not be a priority.

Linebacker Thomas Davis: He is a free agent and Fox has long been a fan of this former first-round pick. I could easily see Davis sliding in as Denver’s weakside linebacker.

Running back DeAngelo Williams: This is an interesting situation. Williams is a free agent. If the Panthers opt to re-sign Williams, Jonathan Stewart or Mike Goodson could become available. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox added one of them to his backfield.

Defensive end Tyler Brayton: If Brayton is salary-cap causality in Carolina, the former Colorado star could be decent depth in Denver.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason: A Fox favorite, the Panthers' longtime anchor of the defense is entering the final season of his contract. Perhaps Fox will try to deal for him.

Cornerback Richard Marshall: He is an underappreciated player. If Champ Bailey leaves as a free agent, Marshall could be an inexpensive option.

Linebacker James Anderson: He is a free agent and he could be an inexpensive option as Fox tries to bolster his front seven.

Defensive end Charles Johnson: He had 11.5 sacks and he could be an attractive free agent for Fox.

Broncos flat after Chargers storm back

December, 14, 2008
12/14/08
10:43
PM ET
 
 Harry How/Getty Images
  Chargers receivers Vincent Jackson (83) and Chris Chambers (89) celebrate a come-from-behind win against Kansas City, 22-21, that delayed the Broncos title hopes for at least another week. Denver lost to Carolina, 30-10.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Champ Bailey's reaction when the scoreboard here showed that the San Diego Chargers came back to beat the Kansas Chiefs on Sunday?

"For real?" a still bemused Bailey recalled several hours later.

For real, indeed. It was so real that the Denver Broncos will have to wait at least another week to clinch their first AFC West title in three years.

The Broncos all but had the title hats and shirts rocking in the locker room -- before they even hit the field to face the Panthers. And you couldn't blame them. Kansas City had a 21-3 lead in the third quarter and it led 21-10 at the two-minute warning. However, two San Diego touchdowns in the final 79 seconds delayed the party.

The Broncos did their part to extend the drama until at least Week 16 by falling flat and being drubbed by Carolina 30-10.

Bailey said the team knew what had happened in Kansas City early in the game. It was being updated on the scoreboard. The proceedings in Kansas City garnered Bailey's full attention, who missed his seventh straight game with a torn groin.

"I was watching it and I couldn't believe it," Bailey said. "We left the locker room and the score was 21-10 Kansas City. We were feeling good. Then it was 21-16, then right away it was 22-21 San Diego and then it was over."

"Now, we just have to go out and handle our own business," Bailey said. "We should have done it this week. It's on to next week."

Denver losing to Carolina and San Diego beating Kansas City was not a difficult combination to imagine. However, the way San Diego won the game could make the next two weeks interesting.

San Diego is still a long shot to win the division, but the Chargers will hit their facility Monday morning feeling quite good about themselves. They made a huge comeback to stay alive. Now, only three things need to happen to salvage this disastrous season. If they can beat Tampa Bay on the road and Denver loses at home to Buffalo, the Chargers will have the setup they desire.

San Diego plays host to Denver on Dec. 28 in the regular season finale. Denver beat the Chargers in controversial fashion by one point in Week 2. If San Diego wins that game under the above scenario, both teams will finish 8-8. The Chargers would win the division because of a better division record. San Diego is 4-1 in the AFC West and Denver is 3-2.

"It's a must-win for us next week," Denver cornerback Dre' Bly said. "We need to get it done. We could have done it [Sunday] but we didn't take advantage of it. We need to close it out next week."

Here are some other key elements from the game:

(Read full post)

Panthers break loose in the run game

December, 14, 2008
12/14/08
6:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers' run game finally broke through against Denver.

Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams got loose for a 56-yard touchdown run to give Carolina 27-10 lead early in the third quarter. Williams ran right up the middle. His big run came after a first half in which Denver contained Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The two were held to 26 yards in the first half.

The two running backs combined for 301 rushing yards against Tampa Bay on Monday night. Denver used a 4-4-3 run scheme in the first half to try to stop the run.

Broncos-Panthers update

December, 14, 2008
12/14/08
5:53
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Halftime notes where Carolina leads Denver, 20-10:

Denver running back Selvin Young fumbled at the Denver 25-yard line with seven seconds to go in the first half. It set up a Carolina field goal at the end of the half. Denver coach Mike Shanahan will be questioned for trying to get yardage late in the half with Denver deep in its own territory.

The Broncos have committed two turnovers, resulting in six points for the Panthers.

The Broncos used a 4-4-3 defensive alignment some in the first half. They did it to get standout rookie linebacker Wesley Woodyard on the field. He was a star with D.J. Williams out for five games.

Denver is using a three-man running rotation of Young, Tatum Bell and P.J. Pope. Pope has been the most impressive of the three.

Carolina receiver Steve Smith has six catches for 126 yards.

Carolina running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have a 26 yards rushing in the first half.

Audibles: AFC West Week 15 preview

December, 12, 2008
12/12/08
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers (5-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-11), 1 p.m. ET

  

If the Chargers believe they are going to get an easy victory in Kansas City, they should think again.

The Chiefs may be 2-11, but they are not just playing out their schedule. Working the Chiefs' locker room after their 24-17 loss at Denver last weekend, it was very clear the Chiefs still have a lot of fight remaining in them.

They aren't giving up. The Chiefs want to finish strong and make this brutal season worth something.

Herman Edwards could be coaching for his job. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen is definitely playing for his position as a starter. All of the Chiefs' youngsters are playing for the future.

Kansas City has been very competitive in the past seven weeks, yet it has won just one game during that stretch, blowing late leads in four games.

"We have to start winning," Chiefs' tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "We have to stop blowing games. We have to finish strong."

The Chargers should know Kansas City means business. The Chiefs blew a halftime lead in San Diego last month and they nearly beat the Chargers in the final minute. The Chargers need to beat Kansas City to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Denver Broncos (8-5) at Carolina Panthers (10-3), 4:15 p.m. ET

  

After the Broncos selected offensive tackle Ryan Clady at No. 12 in last April's draft, the Panthers snatched up running back Jonathan Stewart with the next pick.

While Denver could surely use Stewart these days after losing six tailbacks to injury this season, the team wouldn't give up Clady. He has been terrific, allowing just half a sack all season.

In 13 starts, Clady has been as good as any tackle in the NFL.

He will get a big test Sunday in the form of Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, who has 12.5 sacks this season. However, Clady has played against other NFL sack-masters and he's fared beautifully. Clady shut down both NFL sack leader Joey Porter, who has 16.5 sacks, and Atlanta's John Abraham, who has 12.5 sacks.

While Denver could use a runner these days, they absolutely need Clady, who is keeping standout quarterback Jay Cutler upright heading into this game. If the Broncos win, they can clinch the AFC West title.

New England Patriots (8-5) at Oakland Raiders (3-10), 4:15 p.m. ET

  

We just have a feeling about Randy Moss.

It's just a feeling. But we expect Moss to torch the Raiders.

Moss is a prideful player and he turns it on when it counts. It will count for him Sunday in his first return to Oakland since the Raiders traded him in 2007 to the Patriots.

Moss had two mostly disappointing seasons in Oakland after the Raiders acquired him in a pricey trade with Minnesota in 2005. The Raiders cut their losses and dispatched Moss, who was being disruptive in his final days in Oakland.

In New England, Moss was reborn. He was rejuvenated by being on a quality team, setting a record for receiving touchdowns last season. Moss was a disappointment in Oakland but we get the feeling he'll show Raiders fans what he can do on Sunday.

Around the AFC West

December, 10, 2008
12/10/08
3:29
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Denver

The Broncos' run defense will be challenged this week.

My take: Carolina running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both coming off a huge night on the ground against Tampa Bay. Expect the Panthers to run right at Denver. The Broncos' run defense has improved as the season has progressed. But it can still be had. Denver is the 26th ranked run defense in the NFL and it is allowing 139.5 yards a game. Denver will have to contain Williams and Stewart if it has any chance to win.

Kansas City

Herman Edwards likes the spread offense.

My take: If Edwards likes the spread, then he has to like Tyler Thigpen. If the Chiefs keep the spread offense in 2009, then it's very likely Thigpen will be a part of it. He flourishes in the spread offense. It wouldn't make much since if the Chiefs kept the offense but tried to find someone else to run it.

Oakland

One columnist says if JaMarcus Russell is a bust it's the Raiders' fault.

My take: I totally agree. Oakland is in coaching flux, it doesn't have very good receivers and its offensive line hasn't protected Russell well. Russell may not be very impressive, but he's not getting a lot of help. You would think the No. 1 overall pick who is the fourth highest paid player in the NFL this season would be given more of a chance to succeed.

San Diego

A look at who Philip Rivers is.

My take: Rivers gets a lot of love in San Diego and a lot of grief in other NFL cities. Yes, he is vocal and animated. But the guy is passionate and he wants to win. Plus, he's a big-league quarterback. San Diego is lucky to have him.

Random AFC West thoughts

September, 8, 2008
9/08/08
3:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

While the majority of the afternoon and the evening will be occupied with pregame, in-game and postgame coverage of Denver's visit to Oakland tonight on ESPN's Monday Night Football, I have some random AFC West thoughts I wanted to discuss.

The Chargers' Super Bowl aspirations are not damaged by the loss to Carolina. The Chargers have work to do but the loss to the Panthers isn't overly damaging. Look, Indianapolis and Jacksonville, two other top AFC teams lost, and New England QB Tom Brady was lost for the season. This conference is wide open. Remember, this was a nonconference defeat for San Diego. Those are the best kind of losses.

It seems like Chiefs rookie left tackle Branden Albert performed well in his first NFL action Sunday at New England. The No. 15 overall draft pick missed the entire preseason with a foot injury.

Yes, it was only one game. but the Chargers' defense needs to shore up quickly. The Panthers ran and passed at will, especially on the game-winning drive.

Boy, that Darren Sproles is a return star. You better kick touchbacks against the Chargers or you are going to be in trouble.

The early consensus around the league is that Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard delivered a clean hit on Brady when he hurt his knee. Patriots' receiver Randy Moss said it was dirty. Pollard defended the play and expressed remorse that Brady was hurt on the play.

The Broncos are happy with top pick Ryan Clady. Clady will debut at left tackle tonight and he better be good. Denver was considering drafting Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart but instead took Clady at No. 12. One pick later, Stewart was taken by Carolina. Stewart stood out and he looked like a star on Sunday. Clady may be a star and Denver needed a left tackle more than a running back so the pick was understandable. That said, Stewart sure looked good.

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