AFC West: Louis Rankin

AFC West news and notes

September, 30, 2009
9/30/09
2:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


The Chiefs signed linebacker David Herron and cornerback Mike Richardson on Wednesday.

Both players have a history with New England and now Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli. Herron was with the Patriots for one week in 2007 and Richardson was a sixth-round pick of New England in 2007.`

The Chiefs took a look at former Green Bay tackle Mark Tauscher. He is an interesting player. He suffered a major knee injury last December. If healthy, he could be a good fit for Kansas City, which needs tackles. The Chiefs tried out former Philadelphia tackle Jon Runyan three weeks ago.

Oakland brought back return man Justin Miller. He was cut in September, but was brought back because Oakland has several injuries.

Former Oakland running back Louis Rankin was signed to Seattle’s practice squad. Oakland cut him Saturday.

Former Denver running back Ryan Torain worked out in Miami. It was his first workout since Denver cut him after he had a knee injury in August.

In an ESPN.com MVP watch, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is 6th and Denver linebacker Elvis Dumervil is 10th.

Halftime notes from Oakland

September, 27, 2009
9/27/09
5:39
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


OAKLAND -- CBS broadcaster Rich Gannon did not talk to the media prior to the game. The Raiders banned Gannon from their building last week for a production meeting because he has been critical of the team. The Raiders finally relented.
  • Ryan Clady has not allowed a full sack in his entire NFL career.
  • Oakland cut running back Louis Rankin before the game.
  • There are several thousand empty seats. This is the first time a Denver game has been blacked out in Oakland since 2003.
  • Second-round pick Mike Mitchell is playing for Oakland at safety.
  • Denver rookie Knowshon Moreno is running the ball well.
  • Denver seems to be much improved on special teams. That was a big issue the past several seasons for Denver.
  • JaMarcus Russell’s numbers aren’t bad. He has completed 9 of 13 passes for 60 yards. But he is not being effective.
  • Oakalnd running back Darren McFadden needs to be more consistent. We just haven't seen the type of game he is capable of in more than a year. He has seven carries for 21 yards.

AFC West mailbag

August, 23, 2009
8/23/09
12:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Weekend mail call:

Mark from Boise wonders if Brodie Croyle will push Matt Cassel for the starting quarterback job in Kansas City.

Bill Williamson: I know there has been some talk on the internet and I know that Chiefs coach Todd Haley is playing it close to the vest. Still, Cassel is not going to lose his job anytime soon. Now, if he is horrible for several weeks, and Croyle learns the system well, then maybe a move could happen. But you can say that about any quarterback. Cassel is going to be given every opportunity to make it work. The new regime believes in him and it has given him $40 million in guaranteed money. Cassel hasn't been bad. He just hasn't dominated. Give him time. He'll be fine.


Jamie from San Diego wants to know if the Chargers could come calling for Lorenzo Neal now that he has been cut in Oakland.

BW: I know this may pain you, Jamie, but I don't see it happening. The Chargers waved goodbye to Neal after the 2007 season and I don't think they are looking back unless they suffer a couple of injuries. Plus, it is not a good sign for Neal's career that he was cut so early in camp. Oakland wanted to make it work. But the Raiders clearly felt Neal didn't have much to offer anymore. I was a bit surprised. He played decently for the Ravens last year. I thought he could help Oakland. But Neal has nothing to be ashamed of. He was an all-time great fullback and was a star for San Diego.


Eric from Mesa, Ariz. wonders if the Raiders should trade Justin Fargas because young Louis Rankin looks good.

BW: If Fargas were to be traded (he was shopped earlier this year), it likely wouldn't be because of Rankin. Yes, Rankin is a nice prospect, but if Fargas were to be shipped out of Oakland it would be because the Raiders felt they could compete with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush as their primary tailbacks. Fargas has his role, but I wouldn't be shocked if Oakland wanted to streamline its offense and grab another draft pick in the process.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is a look at some of the best AFC West performers of the first half of the preseason, statistically speaking:

Passing: Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos

The numbers: He has completed 24 of 30 passes for 237 yards. He has one touchdown pass and no interceptions. Cutler completed his first 12 passes against Dallas.

What does it mean? Cutler, entering his second NFL season as the full-time starter, looks like he is ready to take the next step in his career and become an elite player.

Running yardage: Louis Rankin, Oakland Raiders

The numbers: The undrafted rookie has 120 yards on 14 carries.

What does it mean? The Raiders may have to find a way to keep Rankin despite their crowded backfield. He could be picked up elsewhere if Oakland tried to sneak him onto the practice squad.

Receiving yardage: Eddie Royal, Denver Broncos

The numbers: The second-round pick from Virginia Tech has four catches for 80 yards.

What does it mean? The Broncos are so impressed by the way Royal has emerged as the No. 2 receiver in Denver.

Tackles: Wesley Woodyard, Denver Broncos

The numbers: The undrafted rookie linebacker from Kentucky has 13 tackles.

What does it mean? Woodyard may make the Broncos as a special teams player.

Sacks: Turk McBride, Kansas City Chiefs

The numbers: The second-year defensive end leads the NFL with three sacks.

What does it mean? McBride perhaps can give the Chiefs some pass rush off the edge in the wake of loss of sack machine Jared Allen.

Interceptions: Antoine Cason, San Diego Chargers

The numbers: The Chargers' first-round pick is tied with others in the division with one interception. He also has 11 tackles.

What does it mean? The cornerback looks like he will make an impact as San Diego's nickel cornerback.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

It will be interesting to watch the progress of undrafted rookie running back Louis Rankin in the Raiders' final two preseason games.

Rankin has been very impressive thus far in the preseason. However, the Raiders have a crowded tailback meeting room. Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush are all going to get their share of playing time. There may not be much room for Rankin.

However, he is making his case to be part of the 53-man roster. The Washington product has gained 120 yards on 14 carries in the preseason. He made a mistake at Tennessee on Friday night by running out of bounds and he caught the ire of coach Lane Kiffin. But that is a rookie mistake. Rankin has been impressive.

While the Oakland backfield is crowded, Rankin is the team of player who could get picked up if the Raiders try to squeeze him onto the practice squad.

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