AFC West: Kolby Smith

The Denver Broncos must feel they have long-term problems at running back.

Why else would they sign LenDale White?

White, who Denver announced it inked Wednesday, is facing a four-game NFL suspension. He won’t be able to help Denver until Week 5 at Baltimore, at the earliest.

White wasn’t a hot item on the open market. He had virtually no interest after Seattle cut him and his suspension was disclosed. White was traded from Tennessee to Seattle during the draft weekend, but he was quickly despite being reunited with his coach at USC, Pete Carroll.

The scuttlebutt around the league was if White couldn’t resurrect his career under Carroll, where would he be able to do it? White hopes that answer is in his hometown of Denver.

The Broncos sure hope White has a revival. Denver signed White after starter Knowshon Moreno and backup Correll Buckhalter were hurt. Both are supposed to be back this month, but clearly Denver didn’t like its overall depth. The team cut Kolby Smith to make room for White.

Once White returns from his suspension (assuming he makes the 53-man roster), he will likely be used in short yardage. He is a big back, who can be effective in short runs. White rushed for 2,349 yards (3.7 per carry average) and had 24 touchdowns in four seasons with the Titans. If Moreno and Buckhalter return healthy, White could team with them to make a decent running back crew.

White's signing does not necessarily take Denver out of the Brian Westbrook sweepstakes. Westbrook is a smaller back, who plays a different game than White. If the Broncos decide they want to pursue Westbrook, there will be room for him as well.

You pick it responses

June, 25, 2010
We had a runaway winner in the AFC West storyline feature this week.

Readers thought Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour signing his franchise tender (he did so after Oakland ended the off-season program, which he didn’t attend) was the story of the week. The other candidates in a slow week was Denver claiming running back Kolby Smith a day after Kansas City cut him and Kansas City safety Jarrad Page reportedly asking for a trade.

I agree with the readers. The Seymour story was big. He is a big part of Oakland’s plans in 2010 and having him prepared to go to his first training camp with Oakland is significant.

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

Will from Harrisburg, Pa.: In regards to the biggest AFC West storyline of this week: It has to be Seymour signing his tender. I always assumed he would at some point, but now is better than the week before camp begins. Sure, he wasn't at the OTAs and other club events, but I doubt missing that time will affect him in September. Remember, his arrival in Oakland last year came late, and with alot of questions. I don't feel he played his best last year, but he wasn't horrible like other aquisitions the Raiders made in the recent past; Hall comes to mind. This team may just take the division.

DJ Mbenga from the Golden State: I feel like the story is less about Seymour signing his franchise tag (he was going to do it eventually), and more about him not yet agreeing to a long-term deal with the Raiders. In my opinion, the Raiders have got to lock Seymour up for at least two years, preferably three. He's a proven winner/leader, has an incredible work ethic, and still has enough gas in the tank to make an impact for several more years. The guy constantly commands a double team, which will free up others in the Raiders' improving front 7. Al Davis will eventually get Seymour inked for a few more years at an expensive price. Before or during training camp, it doesn't really matter as long as we lock him up.

Ben from Shawnee, KS.: This biggest story out of the 3 has to be Jarrad Page wanting to be traded. He has little value on the market coming off a season where he finished injured, and the seasons before he has been so inconsistent with his play. He would be considered the most veteran player in the KC secondary, which has been tremendously upgraded with the additions of Berry and Arenas and even Lewis. Now the Chiefs will most likely start 2 rookie safeties, which puts a lot of the shoulders of the young guys.

Coty: Seymour signing is the bigger deal, why? Well are Smith and this other guy even relevent? Seymour is a talented DE and is going to help make Oaklands DLine stout with the addition of John Henderson and soon to be added Haynesworth...ok I am dreaming but if some reports are true and Haynesworth can be had for a 4th or 5th? Man Seymour signing is all that much more important, imgagine Seymour, Haynesworth, Henderson, Kelly on the DL with Houston, and Shaugnessy, Bryant, Groves rotating in? That takes Oaklands biggest weakness a year ago and makes it a strength. Signing Seymour is the first piece to that puzzle.

Tommy from Fresno: It’s the Seymour story. He’s moving on with the season and so are the Raiders. It’s a new day in Oakland.
The candidates are:

Seymour signs tender: Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour signed his $12 million-plus franchise tender after missing Oakland’s entire offseason program.

Kolby Smith switches AFC West teams: After being cut by Kansas City, promising, but oft-injured running back Kolby Smith was claimed by Denver.

Page asks to be dealt: Kansas City safety Jarrad Page reportedly has asked to be traded. He didn’t sign his restricted free–agency tender. The Chiefs appear to be moving on from Page.

Pick your story of the week and hit my mailbag with your thoughts. I will post some of your responses later in the week.
The Kansas City Chiefs have given up on promising, but oft-injured, running back Kolby Smith. However, the Denver Broncos are willing to give him a chance to succeed in the NFL.

In a mildly surprising move, Denver claimed Smith off of waivers on Tuesday. The Chiefs cut Smith on Monday because he was stuck behind Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones in Kansas City’s backfield.

Smith joins a Denver backfield that includes Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and J.J. Arrington. Smith is 5-11, 219 pounds. He will get a look in short-yardage situations. The Broncos were looking into bigger tailbacks Toby Gerhart and Montario Hardesty before the draft.

If he can stay healthy, Smith is worth the risk.

Meanwhile, Denver also went a long way in deciding its punting situation. It cut punter A.J. Trapasso. That means Britton Colquitt is the only punter on Denver’s roster. He will likely get camp competition but Colquitt -- the younger brother of Kansas City’s outstanding punter Dustin Colquitt -- has impressed Denver’s staff and unless he is terrible in training camp and in the preseason, he should take over as Denver’s punter.

Denver also cut rookie free agent linebacker Korey Bosworth. The UCLA product is the nephew of former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth.
The Kansas City Chiefs waived six players Monday, including running back Kolby Smith and quarterback Matt Gutierrez.

The move was made after the team’s mandatory minicamp during the weekend. Clearly, Kansas City didn’t think these players had a chance to make the team and decided it wasn’t worth bringing them to training camp, which starts at the end of July.

The other players cut were defensive back Andre Jones, tight end Leroy Banks and offensive linemen Jermail Porter and Nick Landry.

Gutierrez was overtaken by Tyler Palko as the No. 3 quarterback during the weekend. Gutierrez was on the Chiefs’ roster last season.

Smith was once a promising back for the Chiefs, but injuries derailed his career in Kansas City. With Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones dominating the backfield, the Chiefs had no room for Smith.

Kansas City makes roster moves

February, 24, 2010
The Chiefs cut guard Mike Goff after one year with the team.

The 12-year veteran had seven starts with Kansas City last year before he was hurt. The decision is not a surprise. He was brought in as a stop-gap solution. Kansas City will try to find a right guard this offseason through free agency or through the draft.

Also, the team brought back backup quarterback Matt Gutierrez. He is the team’s third-string quarterback. They also re-signed running back Kolby Smith. Smith is an interesting player, who has talent. But his career has been plagued by injuries. Still, Smith will get a chance to show he can back up Jamaal Charles.

Going back to school

February, 11, 2010
Seven AFC West players are among the 77 players who will participate in the NFL’s Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program this spring.

The program started five years ago to give players business-school experience during their players days to help prepare them for their post-football life. The session will be held next week.

The AFC West players going to participate in the program at the Harvard Business school are Denver’s Brandon Gorin, Spencer Larsen and LeKevin Smith and Kansas City’s Brad Cottam, Corey Mays and Kolby Smith. Kansas City receiver Bobby Wade will attend the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Broncos-Chiefs notes

December, 5, 2009
KANSAS CITY -- The Kansas City Chiefs put backup running back Kolby Smith on the injured reserve Saturday with an ankle injury.

Smith only played in three games this season because of injuries. He was backing up Jamaal Charles after the team cut Larry Johnson.

The team promoted rookie Javarris Williams from the practice squad. Williams was a seventh-round pick this season. He should get some carries as Charles’ backup.

Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos will be playing their first game, Sunday in Kansas City, without their most famous fan.

Tim McKernan -- better known as the "Barrel Man" -– died at the age of 69 on Saturday. McKernan was known around the league for attending Broncos games wearing a big, orange barrel, a Cowboy hat and not much else. He was beloved in Denver. Because of illnesses, McKernan retired from his 'Barrel Man" persona in recent years.
San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman will likely get the rest he needs Sunday at Cleveland.

Merriman is listed as doubtful on the injury report with a foot injury. He did not practice all week. He has been dealing with a nagging foot injury for several weeks. He didn’t practice last week prior to the game against Kansas City and he played minimally. The Chargers have a tough three-game stretch starting in Week 14 at Dallas, so Merriman will need to be ready for that game. Resting him now is a good move.

It looks like the return of center Nick Hardwick will be delayed another week. He has been out since Week1 with an ankle injury. He’s been trying to come back since late October. He is doubtful to play Sunday, though.

Defensive end Luis Castillo is doubtful to play with a calf injury. He missed last week’s game. Safety Eric Weddle will miss two weeks with a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Denver safety Brian Dawkins is questionable to play at Kansas City on Sunday with an ankle injury. He practiced some for the first time this week Friday. Backup Kansas City running back Kolby Smith is out with an ankle injury.

The Oakland Tribune is reporting that Raiders defensive end Greg Ellis is doubtful to play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Evening AFC West news and notes

December, 3, 2009
The Oakland Tribune is reporting that Trevor Scott, who has been a defensive end until he played linebacker at Dallas, will start at weakside linebacker and Thomas Howard will play on the strong side Sunday at Pittsburgh. Sam Williams will be out of the mix.

This is interesting because Scott, a second-year player, is a playmaker. He needs to be on the field. So, this move could give a spark to the Oakland defense.

Also in the division:

  • Denver safety Brian Dawkins missed his second straight day of practice because of an ankle injury. Friday will be a key day in determining whether Dawkins will play at Kansas City.
  • Chiefs backup running back Kolby Smith did not practice Thursday after he was limited Wednesday. He has an ankle injury.
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

The Kansas City Chiefs just cut a player who was one decent game away from becoming the team’s all-time leading rusher, and it seems like it’s the right move for everybody.

It is time for Larry Johnson to leave Kansas City.
 G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
 Larry Johnson was just 75 yards away from breaking Priest Holmes' team rushing record.

Both sides tried to make it work, but the new Kansas City regime did Monday what it probably should have done in the spring. At least everyone knows the Chiefs gave Johnson a chance to finish his career with them.

Now both the Chiefs and Johnson will move on. And they probably won’t miss each other.

Off the field, Johnson remained a distraction, and on it, Johnson, who turns 30 this month, wasn’t giving the young team much. The 1-7 Chiefs clearly weren’t giving Johnson any motivation.

The Chiefs probably have been planning Monday’s move since Oct. 28, when they suspended Johnson for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville after he made gay slurs and questioned the credentials of Kansas City coach Todd Haley. Last year, Johnson was suspended four games by the Chiefs and the NFL after two separate incidents involving women in Kansas City nightclubs.

General manager Scott Pioli and Haley were impressed by Johnson’s work ethic in the spring when he was committed to the team’s offseason program. In July, Johnson, who in the past asked to be traded from Kansas City, said he was re-energized because of Pioli and Haley.

But the losses started piling up for Kansas City in the first half of the season and Johnson was ineffective because of a combination of him wearing down and a porous Kansas City offensive line. He has 358 yards on this season and was averaging 2.71 yards per carry. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Johnson’s per-carry average this season is the fourth worst in NFL history for players with 100 or more carries.

Johnson is clearly no longer the same back he was in 2006, when he set an NFL record with 416 carries. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Johnson’s per-carry average in that special season was 4.7; since it has been 3.7.

Still, despite his decline, Johnson, a No. 1 pick in 2003, was close to becoming the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. He was 75 yards from breaking Priest Holmes’ team record.

Holmes is still revered in Kansas City, while Johnson has been vilified because of his long history of off-field issues. Many Kansas City fans voiced their displeasure about Johnson last week and wanted him to be released. Some fans began a petition to urge the Chiefs not to allow Johnson to break Holmes’ record.

The team listened and it will move on with youngsters Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith. The two didn’t do much Sunday at Jacksonville when they were just temporary Johnson replacements. Now Johnson is in Kansas City’s rearview mirror and Charles and Smith need to step up their game.

If they don’t, Kansas City will be able to live with it. Johnson is no longer a Chief and that appears to be the best scenario for everyone involved.

Chiefs notes

November, 8, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

Random notes from the Chiefs’ 24-21 loss in Jacksonville:

The Chiefs have to be thrilled with the debut of receiver Chris Chambers. Chambers had three catches for 70 yards from quarterback Matt Cassel. Two of the catches, including a 54-yarder, came for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Chambers was claimed off waivers Tuesday, one day after he was cut by San Diego. The Chiefs have been looking for the right mix at receiver all season. Chambers may be the answer. Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers are two pretty good starting receivers.

Second-year safety DaJuan Morgan started his first NFL game. He has six tackles and a fumble recovery. Morgan could continue to get extensive playing time with Jarrad Page out for the season.

Guard Mike Goff had a streak of 113 straight starts snapped because of injury.

No. 3 overall pick Tyson Jackson continued to play well. He had seven tackles.

Chiefs running backs Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith combined for 53 yards on 10 carries during Larry Johnson’s one-game suspension.

Receiver Lance Long, promoted from the practice squad two weeks ago, had eight catches for 74 yards. He looks like he could be a decent contributor.

Early AFC West notes

November, 8, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen Sunday reported that the NFL will require Oakland coach Tom Cable to undergo an evaluation by a doctor and psychologist as part of its investigation into allegations of assault made by Oakland defensive assistant Randy Hanson.

Also, Mortensen reported Kansas City running back Larry Johnson may be leaning toward not fighting the team if it decides to deactivate him or pursue other discipline after his one-game suspension ends Monday.

The future of Johnson, who is 75 yards away from becoming Kansas City’s all-time leading rusher, in Kansas City could depend on how young running backs Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith perform Sunday at Jacksonville.

New Kansas City receiver Chris Chambers is active and will play some today. Chambers was claimed Tuesday after he was cut by San Diego.

Evening AFC West news and notes

November, 7, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

Kansas City activated running back Kolby Smith off the physically unable to perform list as expected. Smith should get some action Sunday against Jacksonville as he backs up Jamaal Charles. Charles is starting due to a one-game suspension being served by Larry Johnson.

Should Charles and/or Smith play well against Jacksonville, Johnson’s role with the team could lessen.

To make room for Smith, Kansas City waived veteran receiver Bobby Engram. Engram was signed in the offseason to be a veteran leader, but he had little impact. Engram, 36, played in five games and had just five catches this season.
  • Ty Law may play Monday against Pittsburgh, 48 hours after signing with Denver.
  • Denver defensive lineman Ryan McBean was ruled out of the Pittsburgh game with a knee injury. LeKevin Smith will start in his place.
  • Oakland had a visit with defensive lineman William Joseph on Friday. Joseph has bounced on and off the Raiders’ roster this year.

Early AFC West news and notes

November, 3, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

A Bay Area columnist calls for the Raiders to fire coach Tom Cable in light of his off-field issues and the team’s 2-6 record at the bye.

However, Cable just got an endorsement from Lane Kiffin, the man he replaced as coach. That could help cook Cable’s goose since Oakland owner Al Davis is likely not going to want to be on the same page as Kiffin.
  • Kansas City running back Kolby Smith could be making his season debut Sunday at Jacksonville with starter Larry Johnson serving a one-game suspension. Meanwhile, the Chiefs may be without two safeties in the game.
  • According to ESPN Stats & Information, San Diego is tied for second in the NFL with 14 pass plays of 30 yards or more. The Chiefs and Raiders are tied for the second fewest in the league with three pass plays of 30 yards or more.