AFC West: Kyle McCarthy

AFC West notes

February, 10, 2012
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In this Insider piece, Insider Football Outsiders look at the biggest holes for each AFC West team. As a whole, the division needs defensive help soon.

Former Denver safety Kyle McCarthy announced on Twitter he has signed with the Chiefs. He has a chance to be a bottom-of-the-roster player.

Three AFC West players are in the top 10 of CBS Sportline’s top-50 free agent list, including Chiefs’ cornerback Brandon Carr at No. 2. The Chiefs will likely put the franchise tag on either Carr or receiver Dwayne Bowe.

CSNBayArea praises the Raiders’ decision to cut cornerback Stanford Routt. He was being paid too much money, but the reality is Oakland is now without any starting-quality cornerbacks, have limited draft picks, and a lot of salary-cap work to do.

AFC West looks at Titletown help

January, 4, 2012
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The AFC West is considering going Green … Bay.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Kansas City is interviewing Packers’ offensive coordinator Joe Philbin for its head-coaching job and the Raiders are interviewing Packers’ executive Reggie McKenzie for their general manager job.

Schefter reports the Chiefs have interviewed several candidates, and Philbin is the latest. Still, it would be a surprise if interim coach Romeo Crennel isn’t given the permanent job.

McKenzie has long been considered the favorite to take over as the Raiders’ top football decision maker after the death of owner Al Davis. So, the fact this process has started it not surprising, I think the Raiders may move quickly to try to get McKenzie in place.

In other AFC West nuggets:

— Denver football czar and hall of fame quarterback John Elway has some easy advice for struggling Denver quarterback Tim Tebow as he stumbles into a wild-card game against Pittsburgh on Sunday: Pull the trigger. It’s right on the money. Tebow has been tentative and unsure of himself in the past two games.

— Denver signed linebacker Brian Iwuh and waived safety Kyle McCarthy. Iwuh, who played collegiately at Colorado, was last with Chicago.

An ESPN Insider piece looks at the most productive players based on 2011 salaries. There are a couple of AFC West connections.

Another Insider piece Insider looks at the most underrated players in the NFL, and the AFC West is well represented again.
The Raiders placed cornerback Chris Johnson on the reserve/non-football illness list Saturday. Johnson’s sister was shot to death and his mother was wounded in an attack in Texas recently; Johnson has been traveling back and forth from California.

The Raiders signed defensive end Mason Brodine to the 53-man roster to fill Johnson's spot.

In other AFC West news:

The Patriots ruled out Deion Branch, Patrick Chung, Shane Vereen, Brandon Spikes and Sebastian Vollmer for Sunday’s game at Denver.

Denver signed safety Kyle McCarthy and cut fullback Quinn Johnson. McCarthy was cut earlier in the week. The Broncos are banged up at safety — starter Brian Dawkins is questionable with a neck injury that knocked him out of the Chicago game and held him out of two days of practice.

Detroit safety Louis Delmas has been downgraded to out for Sunday’s game at Oakland.

Offensive coordinator Bill Muir is back to the press box to call the game as the Chiefs shift from the Todd Haley regime to the Romeo Crennel regime.

Gunther Cunningham, who spent many years in the AFC West before landing in his current gig as Detroit defensive coordinator, is looking forward to going back to the Black Hole on Sunday with the Lions.

Major kudos to Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell for continuing to be a stalwart in the community after being injured. It’s been a tough season for Campbell, but he’s handled the situation with immense class.

NFL honors Matt Prater

December, 13, 2011
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Straight from the not-a-shocker-category, Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater was named the AFC special teams player of the week for his efforts in the Broncos’ 13-10 overtime win over the Chicago Bears.

Prater nailed a 59-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 10-10 and to send it to overtime. He then ended the game with a 51-yard effort. It was the second time in NFL history a kicker kicked field goals of 50-plus yards in the final minute of regulation and in overtime.

In other AFC West news:

According to ESPN’s playoff predictor Insider Denver has a 78.8 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders have a 23 percent chance.

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is five catches from becoming the team’s all-time leading receiver.

Another theory why Denver is winning games late.

Do you think the Kansas City Chiefs’ job opening is better than the openings in Miami and Jacksonville? I’d vote Miami, but that’s just me.

Denver signed cornerback Tony Carter off the practice squad and waived safety Kyle McCarthy. Denver starting cornerback Andre Goodman is dealing with a concussion and perhaps Denver was lacking for depth in case Goodman can’t play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

The Chargers announced they need to sell 2,000 tickets by Thursday for Sunday’s final home game of the season against Baltimore to avoid a television blackout . There is a good chance the Chargers will sell enough to avoid the blackout. Sunday’s game against Buffalo was blacked out. About 5,000 tickets remained when the blackout was enforced.
Say good-bye to the final piece of the Denver Broncos' three-player second round class of 2009.

Denver waived safety Darcel McBath on Sunday. To replace him Denver signed cornerback Jonathan Wilhite. Wilhite is a fourth-year player who had nine starts for the New England Patriots before being cut. He was a fourth-round pick from Auburn in 2008.

McBath was taken along with cornerback Alphonso Smith and tight end Richard Quinn in 2009, during Josh McDaniels’ first year in Denver. Denver traded its 2010 first-round pick in order to pick Smith.

Smith was traded to the Detroit Lions last season and Quinn was waived/injured this summer.

Denver also announced its eight-man practice squad. Here it is:

Player Pos. College Exp.

Jeremy Beal DE Oklahoma R

D'Andre Goodwin WR Washington R

Adam Grant T Arizona R

Jeremiah Johnson RB Oregon 2

Kyle McCarthy S Notre Dame 2

Eron Riley WR Duke 1

Austin Sylvester FB Washington R

Adam Weber QB Minnesota R

Denver Broncos cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
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Check here for a complete list of the Denver Broncos' roster moves.

Surprise move: The cuts of defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon and safety Kyle McCarthy were unexpected. Jarmon was brought in through a trade from Washington for Jabar Gaffney. He was expected to be part of Denver’s defensive-line rotation. McCarthy was working with the first-team defense for parts of camp. But in the end, 2010 draft picks David Bruton and Darcel McBath were kept over McCarthy.

No-brainers: There was talk that Derrick Harvey could be cut. But the team needs to keep him, especially with Jarmon out. The former No. 8 overall pick from Jacksonville is needed on Denver’s tenuous line. While he probably will never live up to his lofty draft position, Harvey is solid against the run and could help Denver. Also, I’m not shocked that Denver kept only rookie tight ends Julius Thomas and Virgil Green behind starter Daniel Fells. They cut Dante Rosario and Dan Gronkowski. The Broncos really like their three tight ends.

What's next: The Broncos have the No. 2 waiver priority. Expect them to use it often. Denver probably will look at defensive linemen, cornerbacks, offensive linemen and running backs on the waiver wire. The Colts cut defensive tackle Tommie Harris. DT is Denver’s greatest need, but the Broncos might be reluctant to pursue a player who has been cut by the Bears and Colts this year. Recently cut defensive linemen Jacob Ford (Tennessee) and Marcus Harrison (Chicago) could be appealing to Denver.

Camp Confidential: Denver Broncos

August, 17, 2011
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- For a franchise that was accused of turning stale a few years ago, the Denver Broncos have become pros at taking fresh approaches.

For the second time in three training camps, Denver has a new head coach. John Fox takes over after the disastrous 23-month Josh McDaniels regime. From 1995 to 2008, the Broncos were the picture of coaching constancy. It was the Mike Shanahan show. Everyone knew it.

But the Broncos have been in flux and have gone from one of the better-run organizations in the NFL to a team that is grasping for an identity. Denver hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2005 season. It hasn’t had a winning record since 2006.

In comes Fox, who is experiencing a rebirth himself after spending the past nine seasons in Carolina. Fox’s biggest task in Denver is to restore normalcy after the rocky McDaniels era and rebuild a winner.

“There has been instability here, good, bad or indifferent, that’s just the way it has been,” said Fox, whose team will be on its sixth defensive coordinator (former New Orleans secondary coach Dennis Allen) in six seasons.

“We have to build our program here. But I think it can be done. There are good pieces here.”

Many Denver players have raved about Fox. They appreciate his professionalism, his structure and his attention to detail. They believe there is a plan in place, and they trust Fox’s experience. The players also seem to appreciate the fact that Fox is simply in Denver to coach. The front office is run by legendary Denver quarterback John Elway and general manager Brian Xanders. Both Shanahan and McDaniels made personnel decisions.

“I get a great feel for Coach Fox,” star cornerback Champ Bailey said. “He’s one of the better coaches I’ve been around ... I like it that he is focused on coaching us on the field. That’s where he wants to be.”

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeVon Miller
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireRookie Von Miller will need to play well right away if Denver's defense is going to improve this season.
1. Fix the defense. While the Tim Tebow-Kyle Orton competition has garnered much attention, the real key issue in Denver’s camp has been the defense. This unit was ranked No. 32 in the NFL last season and was generally awful in every major statistical category. Fox and his defensive staff have taken a hands-on approach to improve this group, which is a mix of veterans and youngsters.

If the reconstructed defensive front plays well and rookie linebacker Von Miller makes an instant impact, this group has a chance to improve quickly. It seems to be working early. Denver’s defense has been capable in camp and it looked solid against Dallas in the preseason opener Thursday. Injuries to defensive tackles Ty Warren (who signed to a two-year, $8 million deal) and Marcus Thomas create more uncertainty at a key spot for Denver. It needs to get help there by Kevin Vickerson, Brodrick Bunkley, Jeremy Jarmon and Derrick Harvey in the rest of the preseason. Warren could be out for a long period and Thomas will miss the rest of the preseason.

2. Clarity at quarterback: The Broncos’ camp has been about getting the first-team ready to go with Orton. There is no question Orton is the starter now. If the team struggles, Tebow could enter the picture, but players love playing with Orton and the team thinks he currently gives them the best chance to win now.

Of course, the lack of clarity was team-induced. It spent the immediate days after the lockout trying to trade Orton to Miami. After that fell through, Orton took control of the offense quickly and has given Denver no choice but to make him the starter, TebowMania be dammed.

3. Establish a ground game: Although Fox is a defensive-minded coach, he has a strict philosophy on offense. He believes in stuffing the ball down an opponent’s throat and killing the clock. Denver struggled to run the ball under McDaniels, and Fox said adding a veteran tailback was paramount.

The Broncos jumped on Willis McGahee when he was cut by the Ravens. Expect McGahee and third-year player Knowshon Moreno to combine for plenty of carries. They have worked well in camp, and they combined for 40 yards on six carries in the preseason opener at Dallas. This camp has been spent getting these two involved in the offense as much as possible.

ELVIS IS BACK IN THE BUILDING

The Broncos are raving about the play of Elvis Dumervil. After leading the NFL with 17 sacks in 2009 and getting a contract worthy of that performance, Dumervil tore a pectoral muscle in early August last year and missed the entire 2010 season.

There was concern that his rust and a move back to the 4-3 under Fox could hamper the smallish Dumervil. He flourished in McDaniels’ 3-4 system after being a solid player in Shanahan’s 4-3 defense. Dumervil beefed up to more than 260 pounds, and he‘s been impressive under Fox.

The Broncos expect Dumervil and Miller to become one of the better pass-rush tandems in the league.

RELYING ON THE ROOKIES

[+] EnlargeRahim Moore
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe Broncos will also be looking to rookie Rahim Moore to shore up Denver's secondary.
One of the most exciting aspects of this camp for Denver has been the play of its rookies. The Broncos thought they drafted well in April, and after three weeks, they are thrilled with what they see.

“I think we had an excellent draft,” Fox said.

Added Dumervil: “This is the best group of rookies I’ve seen here in awhile.”

Leading the way is Miller, who was the No. 2 overall draft pick. The Texas A&M product has been as advertised. Teammates rave about his speed, explosiveness and his ability to make plays. They expect instant success.

Second-round pick Rahim Moore is vying for a starting spot with Kyle McCarthy at safety and has shown he is ready for NFL play. Right tackle Orlando Franklin, middle linebacker Nate Irving, tight end Julius Thomas and safety Quentin Carter are all expected to be major contributors. This is exactly what this 4-12 team needed -- a solid group of youngsters to build around after a couple of shaky years of drafting by McDaniels.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Safety Brian Dawkins may be turning 38 this year, but the Broncos are still getting a lot out of him. He works well with Fox’s staff, and his leadership has been uncanny during camp.
  • Defensive end Robert Ayers has been getting chances to break out in camp, but he has been slow to show progress. He was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
  • Receiver Brandon Lloyd has been slowed by swelling in his knee. Still, the team expects him to contribute. Lloyd had a breakout season in 2010 -- 77 catches for 1,448 yards.
  • The second-round draft class of 2009 has been a bust. Tight end Richard Quinn is hurt and could be the odd man out. Safety Darcel McBath has yet to develop, and cornerback Alphonso Smith (who Denver traded its 20101 first-round pick for) was shipped out to Detroit last year. This was supposed to be the nucleus of future success, and Denver hasn’t seen results.
  • The Broncos’ passing game struggled in red-zone and third-down situations. That has been a point of emphasis during this camp.
  • Veterans Joe Mays and Mario Haggan are competing to hold off Irving at middle linebacker.
  • Franklin has struggled in pass projection. Still, the team is committed to him.
  • Denver is excited about second-year receiver Eric Decker. Expect Decker to get a chance to contribute a lot.
  • The Broncos like what they have in new tight end Daniel Fells. He is solid as a receiver and as a blocker. He should help in both phases of the game.
  • Right cornerback Andre' Goodman has been steady, and the team is confident he can play well in 2011.
  • Second-year center J.D. Walton continues to improve, and he has shown strong leadership for a young player.

Early AFC West notes

August, 15, 2011
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San Diego tight end Antonio Gates practiced fully Sunday. He hasn’t been practicing much due to a nagging foot injury.

New Kansas City offensive lineman Jared Gaither has started out practicing at left tackle. If healthy, he could soon join the starting lineup and force Branden Albert to move to right tackle.

Little-known safety Kyle McCarthy is making a push in Denver.

San Diego defensive lineman Vaughn Martin realizes it’s time for him to develop.

Former Buffalo starting quarterback Trent Edwards is trying to take advantage of an opportunity in Oakland. He has a good chance to be Jason Campbell’s backup. Edwards looked solid in the Raiders’ preseason opener last week.

New Denver coach John Fox gets a thumbs up from a local columnist.

Peter King has the scoop on why Oakland kicked off to start both halves of the preseason opener against Arizona. I guess it’s the preseason for everyone.

Matt Cassel hopes to play Sunday

December, 13, 2010
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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel told reporters Monday that he is hoping and planning to play Sunday at St. Louis, but he knows it is not certain. Cassel said he is day-to-day after having an appendectomy last Wednesday. He was replaced by Brodie Croyle at San Diego in a 31-0 loss.

Croyle and the rest of the Chiefs were awful in the game. The Chiefs had just 67 yards of total offense and were 0-for-11 on third down. The 8-5 Chiefs have a one-game lead over the 7-6 Chargers. It is crucial that Cassel plays at St. Louis, even though it’s far from a sure thing. If Cassel practices, even on a limited basis Wednesday, it could be a good sign he will be able to play.

The Chargers began practice Monday in a short week before Thursday night’s home game against San Francisco. Tight end Antonio Gates did not practice. He has missed three of the past five games because of a nagging foot injury. He said Sunday he hopes to play Thursday. Left tackle Marcus McNeill was limited Monday with a knee injury. Guard Louis Vasquez returned to practice fully after missing the past three games with a neck injury.

The Chargers were given an extension until 5:20 p.m. Tuesday -- 48 hours before kickoff -- to sell about 2,000 remaining seats for Thursday’s game to avoid a local television blackout. It is the Chargers’ home season finale.

Oakland coach Tom Cable refuted a Yahoo report that said he and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is at odds. We may see in a few weeks if there are truly any issues between these men. By the way, Oakland owner Al Davis is a big fan of Jackson.

Arizona kicker Jay Feely made history against the Broncos on Sunday.

As expected, the Chargers’ game at the Bengals on Dec. 26 has been moved out of the prime-time slot because the Bengals are 2-11.

Denver signed receiver Britt Davis. Safety Kyle McCarthy was put on the injured reserve.

Evening AFC West news and notes

September, 5, 2010
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As expected, Oakland has named Stanford Rout the starting right cornerback ahead of incumbent Chris Johnson. This has been coming a while. Johnson was dreadful in the preseason.

You have to wonder if Oakland will make a play for fullback Tony Richardson. He was cut by the Jets. Oakland doesn’t currently have a traditional fullback on its roster. Richardson is a longtime standout. Oakland tried to make it work with Lorenzo Neal last year, so maybe Richardson will get a call. It wouldn’t hurt. He’s a pro’s pro.

Here is an updated look at Oakland’s practice squad.

Denver claimed offensive lineman Chris Clark off waivers from Minnesota. Denver cut linebacker Baraka Atkins and running back Bruce Hall. Running back Andre Brown was claimed off waivers from the Giants earlier in the day. Denver added linebacker Kevin Alexander, receiver Britt Davis, tight end Riar Geer, safety Kyle McCarthy and linebacker Worrell Williams on the practice squad. Williams is the younger brother of Denver standout linebacker D.J. Williams.

The Chiefs claimed defensive tackle Anthony Toribio off waivers from Green Bay. To make room for him, receiver Quinten Lawrence was cut. Toribio, a run plugger, played one game with the Packers last season.
We enlisted the help of Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. to break down some of the college free agents signed by the AFC West teams.

Here is some of what he thinks about the new post-draft additions to the division:

Denver Broncos

West Virginia WR Alric Arnett: Arnett doesn’t have the burst to consistently separate from man coverage at the NFL level and his hands are a bit inconsistent. However, he has the frame and athletic ability to develop into an effective sub-package receiver.

Oklahoma RB Chris Brown: Brown, who doesn’t have great speed or elusiveness, has the potential to develop into an effective third-down back that can contribute as a receiver out of the backfield and help out in pass protection.

UCLA LB Korey Bosworth: Bosworth has some experience lining up on the inside and should play there in Denver’s 3-4 scheme. He doesn’t have great speed or athletic ability but he’s instinctive and tough enough to develop into an effective reserve in this scheme.

Colorado TE Riar Geer: Geer is not much of a big-play threat and he doesn’t have great size for a blocking tight end. Still he’s worth taking a closer look at because he’s tougher than his size suggests and he catches the ball well.

Notre Dame SS Kyle McCarthy: McCarthy has marginal top-end speed and doesn’t project as a starting safety. On the flip side, he has the potential to develop into a valuable reserve that also covers kicks because he is smart and tackles well.

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota DT Garrett Brown: Brown has the build to develop into a reliable reserve end in the Chiefs’ 3-4-scheme but he’s not quick enough to disrupt runs in the backfield or get to the quarterback with any consistency.

San Jose State OLB Justin Cole: There’s a lot to like about Cole’s upside both as a run stopper and pass rusher. The problem is he shows sub-par instincts on film so he may never realize that potential.

Maine OT Tyler Eastman: Eastman missed the 2007 season with an injury and explosive edge rushers will give him problems but he has the frame to develop into an effective reserve right tackle in time.

Boston College WR Rich Gunnell: Gunnell is an overachiever who makes up for his lack of elite size and speed with effort and determination. He projects as a sub-package receiver at best.

South Carolina OG Lemuel Jeanpierre: Jeanpierre is a former defensive tackle who moved to guard in 2007 and sustained a season-ending knee injury in 2008, but there’s enough to like about his frame and upper body strength to give him a shot.

Oakland Raiders

Tulane RB Andre Anderson: On the plus side, Anderson runs hard and catches the ball well. On the downside, he is relatively undersized for a power back and he isn’t quick enough to consistently turn the corner at the NFL level.

Cincinnati DE Alex Daniels: Daniels’ blend of size and top-end speed makes him an intriguing rookie free agent signing but he’ll have to get off the ball and blocks quicker to carve out a roster spot.

Louisville WR Trent Guy:: Guy has some upside as a slot receiver and return man but he is an undersized prospect who lacks ideal speed and has had some problems with coughing up the ball.

USC OG Alex Parsons: There’s a lot to like about Parson’s frame and he has average upper body strength for a guard prospect but his technique –- both as a run and pass blocker -- needs a lot of work. His ability to sink his hips and get under defenders is of particular concern.

BYU FB Manase Tonga: Tonga needs to run with better pad level but he is an effective blocker and he can snatch the ball out of the air as a receiver.

San Diego Chargers

Fresno State WR Seyi Ajirotutu: Ajirotutu needs to sharpen his route running and he did not run as well as expected at the combine. On the other hand, he is a competitor who appears faster on film than he does on the track and he shows good body control when competing for balls downfield.

Troy State OLB Brandon Lang: Lang, who turned in a disappointing workout at the Combine, could prove to be a steal here. He’s a high motor player who is relentless rushing the passer and pursuing the run.

Southern Methodist RB Shawnbrey McNeal: Though not a powerful between-the-tacklers runner and he needs to be more patient at times, McNeal is quick and can make defenders miss when he gets into space.

Tulane WR Jeremy Williams: While he comes with durability concerns and he’s not much of a vertical threat, Williams has shown signs of developing into a polished route runner and he has the big hands to snatch the ball out of the air.

South Florida ILB Kion Wilson: Wilson isn’t an explosive pass rusher and he has his limitations in coverage but is a tough run stopper and reliable tackler.

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