AFC West: Matt Wilhelm

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

SAN DIEGO -- This is going to be a landmark night in the AFC West.

Assuming there isn't a tie between San Diego and Denver tonight, it will be the first time since Week 16 of 2006 (most of the games were played on Christmas Eve) that three AFC West teams registered a win in the same week. Thanks to ESPN’s Stats & Information for the nugget.

A Christmas miracle.

Well, call this an early gift from the division that won’t stop trying. Sunday, both Kansas City and Oakland knocked off NFC East foes. The division should get win No. 3 Monday night. Back in 2006, Kansas City, San Diego and Denver were the AFC West shared victors.

Oakland’s win over Philadelphia, though, did nothing to keep coach Tom Cable off the hot seat.

The Raiders expect receiver Chaz Schilens to return Sunday against the Jets. He has been out for nine weeks with a broken foot. Schilens showed promise as a rookie. Oakland could surely use a spark at the receiver position.

Speaking of Oakland coaches, I was informed Monday the grievance between Oakland owner Al Davis and former coach Lane Kiffin is still ongoing and could still take a while to go through the arbitration process. It has been ongoing for about a year.

Oakland guard Robert Gallery could be out for another couple of weeks with a leg injury.

San Francisco signed former San Diego linebacker Matt Wilhelm.

Evening AFC West news and notes

August, 3, 2009
8/03/09
11:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Glenn Dorsey has yet to hit the practice field in the Chiefs' camp. He is not in good enough condition yet.

This is not good for Dorsey, who had a lot to prove in his second season. He is transitioning to a new scheme and after coming off an underwhelming rookie year, the last thing Dorsey needed to do was to show up for camp in anything less than premium shape. Dorsey has to get it in gear.

Denver rookie Robert Ayers, who signed his contract Monday, is expected to make his camp debut Tuesday.

The Patriots signed quarterback Andrew Walter. He was cut by Oakland last week. Denver did investigate Walter last week after he was cut.

Linebacker Matt Wilhelm, recently cut by San Diego, has signed with the Eagles, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Linebacker Shawne Merriman practiced in the afternoon Monday after taking the morning off.

You pick it responses

July, 31, 2009
7/31/09
3:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

We had a runaway winner in this week's "you pick it" AFC West storyline feature.

It was the return to the practice field of San Diego Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman. The other candidates were Denver Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall reporting to training camp despite his request to be traded and San Diego cutting linebacker Matt Wilhelm.

After careful consideration, I have to agree that Merriman's return is the story of the week. I was previously leaning toward the Marshall story. But Marshall only reported to avoid a fine. Merriman's return to the field was the result of nearly a year of hard work. Plus, his return is the key to San Diego's season. So his return is the winner in my book as well.

Here are some of your responses:

Wally from Tecate, CA: Shawne Merriman's return, no doubt. Merriman's game will have a crazy amount of ramifications.If he plays well, how much better will the Chargers defense be? Will he be the anchor that takes the Bolts to the Super Bowl? Will the Chargers be able to keep him next year? If they do, who will they let go to keep him? Would he play with the franchise tag? If he doesn't return to his 2007 form, will the Chargers still be interested in him? How will he affect the rest of his teammates? We all know he was willing to play hurt. Would he risk his knee and career for the Chargers to reach the Super Bowl? So many possibilities with this guy. Hope he plays well, helps the Chargers win it all, and he stay a Charger for the rest of his career.Go Bolts!

Ken from Pittsburgh, Pa: No brainer. Lights Out on the field= Lights Out for the NFL.

Kyle Larkin from San Diego, Ca: Storyline of those three has to be Merriman. Wilhelm is no real suprise. Marshall is only there to avoid losing money and has no real news. This is the first look we are getting at Merriman in some team play in nearly a year. It was discussed earlier this year about whether he or Brady was the more important return so he takes the cake here hands down.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here are the candidates:

Wilhelm cut: San Diego cut veteran linebacker Matt Wilhelm. He fell out of favor because the team signed Kevin Burnett.

Marshall reports: Brandon Marshall avoided fines in Denver by showing up for training camp. Still, he doesn't seem thrilled about being a Bronco. He asked to be traded in June.

Merriman's return: San Diego Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman was back on the field this week and he appears raring to go. He missed all but one game last season after having knee surgery. The Chargers' defense suffered without him.

Hit my mailbag with your thoughts on the AFC West story of the week. I will post some of your responses later in the week.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Once the San Diego Chargers signed inside linebacker Kevin Burnett this offseason, Matt Wilhelm's days with the team appeared numbered.

Wilhelm's time in San Diego expired Friday.

The Chargers released him, days before training camp. Wilhelm was a part-time starter last season after starting 14 games in 2007. He had 68 tackles last season. Wilhelm had 247 tackles in six seasons in San Diego. He became a whipping boy of sorts for fans in San Diego last season as the Chargers suffered on defense.

The timing of the release means he can get a jump on catching on elsewhere before training camp starts.

Burnett, who is very good in pass coverage, and veteran Tim Dobbins will compete for a starting job. Both are expected to play in Ron Rivera's defensive system.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The San Diego Charger's Web site is reporting that left tackle Marcus McNeill is recovering well from a neck surgery he had early in the offseason. McNeill is not expected to miss any time in training camp.

Former Denver long snapper Mike Leach was snatched up by Arizona. Leach is considered one of the better snappers in the league and is known for being a locker-room leader. In a surprise move, he was cut when new Denver coach Josh McDaniels signed New England snapper Lonie Paxson. McDaniels, of course, came from New England.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that Chargers linebacker Matt Wilhelm was the victim of a blog fraud.

The Oakland Tribune predicts the free agency loss of safety Rashad Baker, who signed with Philadelphia, could hurt the Raiders.

AFC West news and notes

January, 29, 2009
1/29/09
8:46
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Kansas City Star looks at the first 15 days of the Scott Pioli era. The Chiefs' new boss is trying to figure out who his new coach will be. Speculation around the league continues to center around Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley who will be available to interview after Sunday's Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes stuck up for San Diego linebacker Matt Wilhelm, who gave him a high five after his punt return for a touchdown against San Diego in the playoffs. Holmes said it was just one college teammate reaching out to another. Holmes and Wilhelm went to Ohio State.

The Oakland Tribune is reporting that new quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett could potentially end up the team's offensive coordinator. Al Saunders is also a candidate to join what is expected to be Tom Cable's staff.

The word around the league is that Detroit may soon talk to former Denver general manager Ted Sundquist about a position. Sundquist was a finalist for the Kansas City general manager's job that went to Pioli.

Wrapping up Week 17

December, 29, 2008
12/29/08
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

In my opinion, the Chargers took control of this division in Week 15.

When San Diego came back from 11 points down at the 2-minute warning in Kansas City it didn't only shock the Chiefs but it shocked the Broncos.

The Broncos entered the field in Carolina thinking the Chiefs were about to close out the game. They were on the field when San Diego finished the comeback. The Broncos were flat for the rest of the game and they never recovered. The win in Kansas City sparked the Chargers and it killed the Broncos.

The AFC West was taken over at that point.

-- Chargers star running LaDainian Tomlinson, who had three touchdowns in San Diego's 52-21 thump job over Denver on Sunday night, said he may have a strained groin. He will be examined later Monday. He is hopeful to play Saturday night against Indianapolis. It doesn't help Tomlinson that the game is played one day earlier than usual.

If Tomlinson can't play, his backup, Darren Sproles, will start. Sproles had 114 yards Sunday night as San Diego compiled 289 yards on the ground against Denver. Fullback Jacob Hester will also have an increased role if Tomlinson can't play.

-- San Diego tight end Antonio Gates has an ankle injury that will be monitored throughout the week.

-- After a week of trash talking, there was some on the field.

"It got chippy," said San Diego linebacker Matt Wilhelm, who during the week called Denver quarterback Jay Cutler "a punk."

"There was some talking out there. There is resentment between the two teams but I think it's because we are the two teams always going for the division title."

However, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said there were no issues between him and Cutler. The two have a rivalry dating to last season when Rivers and some teammates and Cutler got into an on-field verbal spat. Rivers said he and Cutler shook hands before and after the game.

"He was great," Rivers said. "We were good."

-- The Chiefs will draft No. 3 and the Raiders will draft No. 7.

-- After the game, Denver coach Mike Shanahan said defensive coordinator Bob Slowik will return for a second season. Slowik was Denver's third defensive coordinator in three seasons. Denver allowed 448 points this season, which was the third-most allowed in the NFL.

-- Rivers completed all six of his pass attempts on third down Sunday night.

-- The Chargers did a much better job against Denver receiver Brandon Marshall on Sunday than they did in Week 2. Marshall had six catches for 55 yards Sunday night. He had 18 catches for 166 yards in Week 2.

-- Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell wants Tom Cable to be the team's full-time coach. Since Russell is the future of the team, his endorsement could weigh heavy.

 
 AP Photo/Rob Carr
 San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is in the midst of a hot December and might be just the antidote for the Indianapolis Colts next Saturday.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

SAN DIEGO -- A.J. Smith stood in a corridor just off the celebratory San Diego Chargers locker room Sunday night.

He explained the Chargers' game plan for December.

"Win and hope," said Smith, San Diego's general manager. "Win and hope. That's it. That's all we could do. We had to win and hope Denver would lose. Now here we are."

Simple? Being down by three games in a division race with three games to play is never easy, but the San Diego Chargers will be remembered as one of the best comeback champions in NFL history.

With their 52-21 trouncing of the broken Denver Broncos (and the game wasn't as close as the score indicated), the Chargers became the first team since 1985 to win a division at 8-8 and the first NFL team to advance to the playoffs after starting 4-8.

With their incredible comeback and the Broncos out of the way, San Diego now focuses on the postseason, just as was expected when the 2008 season commenced. The Chargers play host to Indianapolis in an AFC wild-card round game Saturday night at 8 ET.

With their horrendous start erased, San Diego enters the postseason the dangerous team it was expected to be. It's time to start calling the Chargers Super Bowl contenders again. San Diego has won four straight games and has been dominant in three of the four games.

"We have an opportunity," Smith said. "We are in the tournament. That's all we ever wanted. We are playing well in all three phases of the game. Now we're in the tournament and let's see what happens."

The Chargers know they are playing as well as just about any team in the NFL -- except maybe Indianapolis. The 12-4 Colts have won nine straight games.

"We may be as hot as anyone," said San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, who continued his torrid December. "Maybe all except the Colts. But it is going to be fun. Hey, we're here and that's all we could have asked for."

The Chargers, who are 14-0 in December with Rivers as their quarterback, surely know all about Indianapolis. The Colts won in San Diego on Nov. 23 on a last-second field goal. San Diego beat Indianapolis in the divisional round of the playoffs last season and it beat the Colts during the regular season in San Diego in 2007.

"We know them as well as a division opponent," San Diego safety Eric Weddle said. "We've been playing very well since we last played them."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

DENVER -- It's notable that the first Denver game Ed Hochuli has officiated in nearly eight years was mired in controversy.


This time, however, the Broncos were the beneficiaries of Hochuli's critical calls. Several key whistles came on Denver's final drive, just before the Broncos touchdown and two-point conversion that allowed the Broncos to pull out a 39-38 win over San Diego
On second and goal from the San Diego 1 with 1:17 to go, Denver quarterback Jay Cutler lost control of the ball and it was recovered by San Diego at the 10-yard-line.


The plan was initially ruled an incomplete pass officials reviewed the play and decided it was a fumble but the play was ruled dead at the 10 because a quarterback pass/fumble rule does not permit a possession change.


"No change of possession, by rule," Hochuli said.


Still, plenty of people were wondering why the whistle was blown after Cutler fumbled the ball. The initial call of an imcomplete pass was ultimately wrong. But, by rule, it could not be overruled. San Diego coach Norv Turner said the call was not "acceptable."


"It's the National Football league and I'm sure the Broncos hope to be at their best just like we hope to be at our best in every game," San Diego linebacker Matt Wilhelm said. "I hope the NFL wants to be at its best at every game."


Once again, Hochuli was in the middle of controversy involving Denver.

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