AFC West: Kevin Ellison

In an Insider piece, Insider Gary Horton thinks Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece is the ninth most versatile player in the AFC. I can see that. I expect Reece to be part of a lot of offensive sets in Oakland, the same as he was with the past regime.

By the way, you have to check out who Horton has as the No. 1 most versatile player in the conference. Here’s a hint: We used to talk about him a lot here.

In other AFC West news:

— Several members of the Chiefs’ organization returned to Joplin, Mo. on Friday to continue to help in the recovery of last year’s devastating tornado. The Chiefs have been heavily involved in the recovery process.

— Former San Diego safety Kevin Ellison has been arrested for arson in the state of Washington. Ellison was a sixth-round pick in 2009, and he started nine games as a rookie. He was arrested for driving with a controlled substance in 2010. The Chargers cut him weeks later. He then briefly played with Seattle.

— The Broncos and Matt Prater continue to work toward a new deal in an attempt to get the franchised kicker in camp in time.

— Former Denver quarterback Tim Tebow is headed back to San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium.

AFC West links: Oakland's 'ultimate bargain'

July, 17, 2010
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Denver Broncos

The Denver Post's Woody Paige thinks the Broncos must improve all facets of their offense.

Kansas City Chiefs

The New York Times takes a look at new Kansas City running back Thomas Jones' career -- one shaped by consistency and uncertainty.

Oakland Raiders

ESPN's Len Pasquerelli calls Oakland's acquisition of quarterback Jason Campbell the "ultimate bargain" of the offseason.

Former star Tim Brown will be enshrined Saturday in the College Football Hall of Fame.

San Diego Chargers

A pharmacy that provided controlled substances to the San Diego Chargers has surrendered its federal registration and can no longer distribute prescriptions to the team. Meanwhile former safety Kevin Ellison has pleaded not guilty to drug possession charges.

Chargers.com's position previews continues with defensive tackles.

You pick it responses

July, 2, 2010
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John Elway’s public desire to become a part owner of the Denver Broncos -- the team he was a superstar quarterback for -- is our “you pick it” winner this week.

The other candidates were San Diego cutting second-year safety Kevin Ellison shortly after he was arrested for having 100 Vicodin pills and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saying he will support the Chargers in their attempt for a new stadium.

I like the Goodell story, but for now, the Elway story is bigger. If Elway wants to become part of the Broncos again, he will. And that will be huge news. This was the right call.

Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone who participated:

Ian John from Pueblo, Colo.: Might be a bit biased when it comes to the story of the week being a Bronco fan, but I think the Elway story gets the nod. Not just because he might own a piece of Denver eventually but because he is talking about coming back as a coach too. What more could help Tim Tebow develop than John Elway helping him with things like his accuracy and how to be a scrambling QB in the NFL?

Matt from Boulder, Colo.: Elway's attempt to acquire a piece of the franchise the he himself put on the map may not be the most glamorous story-line, but it has to be the most important of the week. He has god-like status in Denver and is obviously an icon among all Broncos fans. I'm sure Pat Bowlen will keep full ownership of the team within his family when the time comes for him to let the controls go, but to see Elway throw in his two cents and try to contribute fiscally would be very interesting. He has been very successful in his non-football endeavors (selling the car dealerships, Elway's Restaurant etc.) so why not give him the chance to contribute to what he is most known for?

Chris from Coure d’Alene, Idaho: A good sign the commish is behind the it. Will is a huge chunk of the effort in a laid back town like SD, and having leaders support you bolsters that will. We saw what happened to the Seattle SuperSonics when Stern didn't back their team...buh bye! Go Bolts!

Bulldog from Arlington Heights, Ill: Regarding Elway wanting a partial ownership in the Bronco's is to me a huge story. Living in the suburbs of Chicago, Michael Jordan was "The King" of Chicago, and he wanted a piece of the Bulls, which he did not get, so he moved on to take on a significant piece of the Charlotte Bobcats. Now, I am not really sure of his success , or lack of it, but, the town will always remain a Michael Jordon town, and a whole lot of people were disappointed when Jordon was told NO.Will this effect Pat Bowlen's answer, who knows, but, it could effect the way a lot of fans respond to Bowlen in the future.

Tim from Denver: Has to be Elway by process of elimination. Did anyone really expect Ellison to stay on the Chargers after his arrest? On the other hand, the SD stadium itself is a big deal, but Goodell supporting the Chargers making more money is not. Elway's return has a lot of ramifications for the Broncos, most notably stopping the weird talk in Denver that Bowlen can't afford the best players any more. This also gives more of a chance that Elway will work with Tebow. Plus, his seemingly budding business friendship with McDaniels will do nothing but help McDaniel's reputation in Denver, which really could use a shot in the arm these days.

Albert from Boise: San Diego cuts Ellison: The Chargers cut second-year safety Kevin Ellison a month after being arrested with 100 Vicidon pills. I believe that with how quickly the Chargers were willing to cut Kevin Ellison shows that they have faith in the ability of Steve Gregory to step in as the starter. He was put in various positions on the field last season and was able to do pretty well. Also, rookie Darrell Stuckey looks promising for the team and will get some time to shine as well.

Mike from Denver: It’s Elway. Come back to the Broncos, John. Please.

San Diego notes

June, 30, 2010
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The NFL Network has reported unhappy San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson is working out with Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb in Arizona. This is interesting because Washington is one of the teams that could show real interest in Jackson.

Still, as the report pointed out, not too much should be read into this. NFL players work out together in the summer all the time, especially in Arizona. If Jackson wasn’t having issues with San Diego, he and McNabb would still be working out together.

However, this pairing could become vital if Washington does want to pursue Jackson. The team’s brass can get a feel for him from its quarterback. So, in a summer where news on Jackson is plentiful, this is, at least, noteworthy if not overly telling.

Meanwhile, the agent for disposed safety Kevin Ellison denied a DEA probe into the Chargers’ prescription drug practices has nothing to do with his client. Ellison was caught with 100 Vicodin pills in May. He was cut this month and is now with Seattle.
The candidates are:

Goodell supports San Diego stadium: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he will support the Chargers’ attempt to get a new stadium.

Elway wants a piece of the Broncos: Denver legendary quarterback John Elway said he would like to buy a part of the Broncos. If not, he’d be interested in buying into another team.

San Diego cuts Ellison: The Chargers cut second-year safety Kevin Ellison a month after being arrested with 100 Vicidon pills.

Make your choice for the story of the week and hit my mailbag with your thoughts. I will post some of your responses later in the week.

Pressure pointed at Cassel

June, 26, 2010
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Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. is a spot-on talent evaluator. That’s why I tap into his NFL knowledge at every opportunity.

Cassel
Cassel
In this week’s pressure point feature, Williamson tackles Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel, who is entering his second season with the Chiefs.

Williamson gets to the point quickly. He thinks Cassel needs to get better. Here's a taste:
While he was often under siege behind a poor line, Cassel didn't show the timing and ability to unload the football on time. He struggled under pressure and must improve this area of his game. He also fumbled too much. Cassel is clearly at his best in the shotgun out of the spread, but he must improve under center in order for this offense to become more well rounded and balanced.

Williamson goes on to reason that Cassel, who excelled as Tom Brady’s injury replacement in New England in 2008, has a better supporting cast this year in Kansas City than he had last year, so he is set up to succeed better.

I agree with Williamson’s assessment of Cassel. Still, I do think Cassel will be fine. He showed in New England, he can be effective. Given better tools, I expect to see big improvements in 2010 from the Chiefs’ quarterback.

In other AFC West developments:

Seattle has reportedly waived safety Kevin Ellison because of an existing injury. He was just cut by the Chargers. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Chargers have to give Ellison an injury settlement.

The Chargers’ training camp practices will be, once again, open to the public.

Report: Chargers ink Stuckey

June, 25, 2010
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Darrell Stuckey is not wasting time taking advantage of his golden opportunity in San Diego.

The NFL Network is reporting the rookie has agreed to terms with the Chargers. The safety was a fourth-round pick.

Stuckey is one of the most interesting third-day picks in the entire NFL. He has a chance to start in San Diego. One of the reasons why Kevin Ellison was cut this week is because the Chargers are excited about Stuckey.

He will compete with veteran Steve Gregory for playing time. By signing early, Stuckey has ensured himself the entire training camp to prepare for his rookie season.
ESPN’s.com’s Page 2 is continuing its coverage into everything Tim Tebow by looking at his signature and how it helps him fund his foundation.

Tebow is an interesting guy and you have to admire his reasons why he feels it’s important to take the time to sign autographs for children.

Here’s a taste: "It's exciting and it's extremely humbling that people would want your autograph," Tebow said. "But I think also it can get to the point sometimes where people are around you and you're thinking 'Man, I've gotta go' or 'I've gotta do something' or 'I just want to eat my dinner.' But then I think about when I was 6, 7, 8 years old and Danny [Wuerffel] waited to sign my autograph and how it made me feel as a kid.”

Meanwhile, Tebow’s competition in Denver, Brady Quinn, lauds the rookie’s character and work ethic.

Safety Kevin Ellison was claimed by Seattle and will play for his coach at USC, Pete Carroll. Ellison was cut by San Diego on Monday.

New Denver defensive tackle Jamal Williams thinks his experience with San Diego will help him as he stays in the AFC West.

Oakland star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is being honored in the nation’s capital for his humanitarian efforts.

Former Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell has hinted that he may soon sign with a new team.

Former NFL tackles Willie Anderson wants to return to the NFL. San Diego was interested in 2008. With a potential depth issue if Marcus McNeill holds out, perhaps there will be renewed interest by the Chargers.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the Chargers have received at least one call about a trade for Vincent Jackson, who is planning to hold out for most of the season. The paper said the Chargers were not interested. This is not a surprise, but perhaps, if the situation gets really messy, the Chargers could change their mind. Talk that Seattle could be interested appears to be right on. Perhaps the Seahawks will push the issue down the road.

Chargers cut DT Ian Scott

June, 21, 2010
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In addition to waiving safety Kevin Ellison, the Chargers cut three other players Monday.

The biggest name on the list was defensive tackle Ian Scott. He started seven games last season. The other players dismissed by the team were running back Cory Jackson and receiver Jordyn Jackson.

Scott helped plug the hole at defensive tackle when Jamal Williams was hurt last season. With rookie Cam Thomas emerging, Scott was expendable. Expect Thomas to get quality playing time.

Chargers bring back Ellison

June, 8, 2010
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Buried in the news that the Chargers and top players Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill may play some hardball this summer is the news that safety Kevin Ellison is back with the club.

Ellison was arrested last month after being allegedly caught with 100 vicodin pills. The team expressed disappointment with Ellison after the arrest and he was told to stay away from the team’s minicamp.

The fact that he is back means the team has perhaps softened its stance on the second-year pro. He finished the season as the starter.

Still, if Ellison is kept on the roster, he will have to fight fourth-round pick Darrell Stuckey and veteran Steve Gregory for playing time.
NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

[+] EnlargeDarrell Stuckey
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesRookie safety Darrell Stuckey has the chance to contribute right away for the Chargers.
Darrell Stuckey is going to be an interesting player to keep an eye on this summer.

The safety was a fourth-round pick by San Diego. The early offseason camp returns on the Kansas product have been strong. He was sharing starting repetitions during last week’s minicamp with veteran Steve Gregory.

Stuckey has a chance to become a significant contributor right away. He can take advantage of Kevin Ellison’s legal issues. The Chargers had Ellison stay away from minicamp last week after he was arrested for allegedly having 100 Vicodin pills in his possession.

The Chargers are clearly upset with Ellison. He could be released.

Ellison was a sixth-round draft pick last year. He started the final nine games of last season. Still, the Chargers drafted Stuckey to give him an opportunity to take Ellison’s spot. In the aftermath of Ellison’s arrest, Stuckey clearly has to be considered a frontrunner to start.

Stuckey is a big, strong player who has good instincts. He has a chance to play early and Ellison’s off-field issues will expedite his opportunity.
There’s not much available on the open market so the arrival of brand-spanking new free agent Oshiomogho Atogwe has to be met with some degree of intrigue here in early June.

Atogwe
Atogwe
The excitement needs to be tempered somewhat. Atogwe is a solid, not great player. The safety, who turns 29 this month, is not a defense-changing player. I don’t expect an AFC West team to become an obvious favorite to land Otogwe. The teams most mentioned as favorites to land him include Miami, Dallas, Minnesota and San Francisco.

I don’t think Denver and Oakland will become major players because they are both in decent shape at the position. Kansas City just drafted Eric Berry at No. 5 overall, but the Chiefs could look at Atogwe to further shore up the position. Still, that’s a long shot.

I think San Diego is Atogwe’s best bet of landing in the AFC West. But I wouldn’t say there’s a great chance of it happening.

There is a potential need at the position in San Diego. Second-year player Kevin Ellison, who started the final nine games of the season in 2009, was recently arrested for allegedly being in possession of a controlled substance. He was kept away from the team’s minicamp. The Chargers are giving fourth-round pick Darrell Stuckey a chance to emerge. But he is a rookie.

Atogwe certainly would be an upgrade for a team with serious postseason intentions. He’ll be tempting. However, the Chargers are very conservative in free agency, so a move like this would be a tad out of character.

The week that was

May, 31, 2010
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Let’s catch up on some of the top headlines in the AFC West while I was away for the week: My take: This grievance seems flimsy. It doesn’t look like the Raiders have much of a case here. The Raiders should just cut their losses with this enormous bust and move on. This grievance doesn’t solve anything. My take: Tebow is on the fast track. The Broncos want him to get as many repetitions as possible. Tebow was drafted to play, so he’ll move up the ladder quickly. As for Brandstater, the sixth-round pick in 2009 looks like he may be headed to the practice squad. My take: It wouldn’t be a surprise if Ellison, who started the final nine games last season, is eventually cut. My take: Denver tackles Ryan Clady (knee) and Ryan Harris (foot) are banged up, so bringing in Adams wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. He’d be nice insurance.

AFC West headlines: Heyward-Bey emerges

May, 27, 2010
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Denver Broncos

Alphonso Smith, a 2009 second-round draft pick, expects to play a larger role this season after being limited to nickel duty last season.

Kyle Orton is not the quarterback to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl, according to the Denver Post's Woody Paige.

Kansas City Chiefs

Dwayne Bowe claims he did not tell ESPN the Magazine that players "imported" women to the team hotel during his rookie season, according to former Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison.

The Chiefs dropped by Whiteman Air Force Base Wednesday as part of the VFW's "Return the Favor" program.

Oakland Raiders

The change at quarterback for the Raiders should make life easier for left tackle Mario Henderson.

Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is starting to perform in practice like a first-round pick.

San Diego Chargers

Defensive tackle Travis Johnson signed his one-year contract tender on Wednesday.

Tight end Antonio Gates was excused from minicamp to have his foot examined by a specialist.

Coach Norv Turner told safety Kevin Ellison to stay away from minicamp following his arrest on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance.

AFC West notes: Ex-Broncos coach dies

May, 26, 2010
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Denver Broncos

A look at Stan Jones, who coached the Broncos' defensive line for 18 seasons, and died May 21 at his daughter's home in Broomfield, Colo. He was 78. Jones helped create the Broncos' "Orange Crush" defense of the 1970s.

The team signed seventh-round rookie linebacker Jammie Kirlew to a four-year, $1.84 million contract.

With Brandon Marshall gone, Jabar Gaffney could emerge as the team's No. 1 receiving threat.

Kansas City Chiefs

In light of Dwayne Bowe's recent controversial comments, coach Todd Haley said the Chiefs try to teach their players how not to talk to the media.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have granted East Oakland $200,000 to build a new athletic field.

San Diego Chargers

According to his agent, defensive back Kevin Ellison was not aware that the Vicodin which resulted in his arrest was a controlled substance. Ellison, who started nine games during his rookie season with the Chargers, was arrested Monday in Redondo Beach, Calif., with 100 Vicodin pills in his possession after being pulled over for speeding.

Tuesday's decision to play the 2014 Super Bowl at the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey means San Diego's chances of hosting another Super Bowl anytime soon are slim, according to Nick Canepa.

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