AFC West: Mike Scifres

Although special teams coordinator Kevin Spencer has an experienced group returning for the San Diego Chargers in 2014, it could still use help in the return game.

Locks: None
Looking good: Nick Novak, Mike Scifres, Mike Windt
Free agents: Ronnie Brown, Lavelle Hawkins

The good: Novak had one of the best seasons in franchise history for a kicker, tying John Carney's team record for most made field goals in a season with 34. Novak also set a franchise record for accuracy with a 91.9 percent conversion rate (34 of 37) on field goals. Scifres was among the best punters in the NFL in placing the ball inside the 20-yard line, finishing with a league-best 30 of his 56 punts inside the 20. Windt avoided having his name mentioned during the year, which means no bad snaps and a full 16-game season played as a long snapper -- both good things.

The bad: Novak finished in the bottom of the league in touchbacks, with 19.6 percent of his kickoffs resulting in opposing teams getting the ball at the 20-yard line. The Chargers averaged just 22.1 yards per kick return, which was No. 23 in the league. San Diego's punt returner also is the team's No. 1 receiver in Keenan Allen. That's probably not a good combination.

The money: Novak is due to make $1.325 million in base salary in 2014, which seems reasonable for an above-average kicker in the league. Scifres is set to make $3.2 million in non-guaranteed base salary for the upcoming season -- that seems a little high for an above-average punter. For comparison sake, San Francisco punter Andy Lee has earned All-Pro honors four times and will make $1.9 million in base salary in 2014. Scifres is signed through 2016 and turns 34 this year. Windt is set to make $730,000 in base salary in 2014.

Draft priority: Low. All three specialists proved their worth and should return, but there's nothing wrong with adding competition during training camp. San Diego's most obvious need is adding someone with juice in the return game who can help flip field position and get extra first downs for the offense. Brown and Hawkins both returned kicks last season and neither player showed that they are someone that can routinely create big plays in the return game.
 
SAN DIEGO -- At 4-4 overall at the midpoint, the San Diego Chargers are about where they should be heading into the season's backstretch.

Quarterback Philip Rivers' bounce-back season has been one of the main storylines for this team, along with the return of a competitive spirit established by first-year head coach Mike McCoy.

Still, the Chargers face a daunting schedule if they want to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009. San Diego still has five AFC West division contests left -- two each against division leaders Kansas City and Denver.

 
LANDOVER, Md. -- One of the few bright spots on an otherwise disappointing day for the San Diego Chargers was the performance of the special teams’ unit.

Guy
Defensive end Lawrence Guy has been on the roster for only four weeks, but he made an impact against Washington, blocking a 25-yard field goal attempt by Kai Forbath, the Chargers' first blocked field goal attempt in 11 years.

“Every time I line up in that situation, my focus is on getting penetration and blocking the ball,” Guy said. “So that’s basically what I did. We got some penetration, I got my hands up and I blocked the ball.”

The play was Guy’s second blocked field goal this season. He also blocked a 48-yard field goal attempt by Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka that safety Delano Howell returned for a 61-yard score while Guy played for Indianapolis last month.

Guy also knocked down a Robert Griffin III pass attempt that teammate Sean Lissemore caught in the end zone for a touchdown -- San Diego’s first defensive touchdown of the season.

“It was kind of suspended in the air between people and all sorts of stuff,” Lissemore said about the play. “So I looked down, saw something brown and held onto it. It was kind of tough down there. People were pawing at it and grabbing it, but we ended up getting the touchdown.”

Defensive end Corey Liuget also blocked a 59-yard Forbath field goal attempt at the end of the half.

San Diego punter Mike Scifres also had a good day, finishing with two punts downed on the 1-yard line.

The first punt was an impressive play by receiver Seyi Ajirotutu. As the gunner, Ajirotutu raced down the field, diving and batting the ball back into the field of play before it reached the end zone. Safety Darrell Stuckey downed the ball on the 1-yard line.

The other one was a shorter, 35-yard kick that Scifres angled toward the sideline, with the coffin-corner kick bouncing out just before it reached the goal line.

Scifres said it’s the first time he’s had two punts downed on the 1-yard line in a game.

“He made a great play on the first one,” Scifres said. “And on the second one, on that short of field, we just played the sideline.”
Our positional rankings series continues with the best group of kickers and punters in the NFL:

1. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland: One of the greatest weapons on the NFL. He’s getting better.

2. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City: Veteran punter was finally recognized with a Pro Bowl berth last season.

3. Mike Scifres, San Diego: Typically overshadowed during his 10 years in the NFL, but he is a tremendous punter.

4. Matt Prater, Denver: His big leg is a perfect fit in the thin air.

5. Britton Colquitt, Denver: He’d be the best punter in most divisions.

6. Ryan Succop, Kansas City: A solid kicker who can get better.

7. Nick Novak, San Diego: Veteran has done a nice job for the Chargers.

8. Chris Kluwe, Oakland: Decent vet has early edge over green Marquette King to replace departed standout Shane Lechler.

AFC West wrap: What was and will be

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
12:30
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NFC Season Wraps: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five things to know and my all-division team.

Division MVP: This is not difficult: Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. There is a strong chance Manning will win his fifth NFL MVP award in his first season with Denver. His biggest competition is likely Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. Manning has far surpassed expectations with the Broncos. Manning, 36, has not shown any signs of slowing after enduring a neck injury that kept him from playing all of last season with the Colts. He has spearheaded a 10-game win streak for the Broncos, who are 12-3 and have a chance to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Manning has gotten better as the season has progressed, and he's having one of his best seasons in the NFL. This was a franchise-changing signing.

[+] EnlargePeyton Manning
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesHe might appear calm under center, but Broncos QB Peyton Manning admitted that he'll be a bit nervous before Thursday night's season opener.
Biggest disappointment: It has to be Kansas City. The Chiefs were expected to be competitive and many folks (including myself) picked them to win the division. Yet Kansas City is 2-13 and on pace for the No. 1 pick in April's draft. The biggest issues were terrible quarterback play by Matt Cassel and his replacement, Brady Quinn, and questionable coaching. The result of the disappointment will likely be a clean sweep of the team’s brass and the search for a new quarterback.

Coaching searches about to commence: We all expected the Chargers to give the gate to coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith last year. Now that San Diego will miss the playoffs for the third straight year, both Turner and Smith are expected to be gone. And in the division, they may not be alone. Chances are strong Kansas City general manager Scot Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel will both pay for the Chiefs’ failures with their jobs. While Dennis Allen is probably safe in Oakland, there are no guarantees, and there could be big changes in store to his staff. So, January will be a busy month in the AFC West with at least half the division undertaking huge leadership makeovers.

Rivers has to be focus in San Diego: Philip Rivers, who turned 31 this month, is ending his second straight disappointing season and is no longer considered an elite quarterback. Still, he must be the centerpiece of the changes in San Diego. Rivers still has several years left and he can still help the Chargers win. But he needs help, and the new San Diego leadership must make it a priority to build around Rivers in an attempt to fix him and utilize him moving forward.

Help is on the way: The Broncos have won 12 games and the three other teams in the division have won 12 games ... combined. But there will be a payoff in the draft. The Chiefs are in line for the No. 1 pick, the Raiders are angling for the No. 3 pick and the Chargers are on pace to select 10th. Thus the draft season will be of supreme importance for this division. The Chiefs need a quarterback, but there are no top choices, so Kansas City may have to take a defensive gem in a top-heavy defensive class. Oakland has big defensive needs and will score a top defensive player, and the Chargers will be on the hunt for offensive line help early on. Expect us to heavily focus on the April draft in the coming months since no division in the NFL will be better represented at the top of the draft.

And now we present our 2012 AFC West team. A few notes before we get to the list.

I used a 3-4 defense because half of the division (Kansas City and San Diego) uses it as a base defense and I thought the linebackers were stronger, so I wanted to recognize four of them. This list features the best players at the position, so I used two left tackles instead of forcing a right tackle, etc. I did use a fullback, Oakland’s Marcel Reece, because I thought he was deserving of recognition.

The 26-man team features 13 Broncos. Excessive? Well, considering the 12-3 Broncos have accounted for half of the AFC West’s wins this season, it is fitting.

On to the list. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to say in the comments section below.

AFC West Pro Bowl musings

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
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Random AFC West Pro Bowl thoughts:

The fact that Kansas City placed five players on the AFC Pro Bowl team -- as many as 12-win Denver -- despite a 2-13 record, pokes more holes at the team’s coaching.

It’s another reminder that there is talent on this roster. It will also serve as a good selling point for ownership to prospective coaches and general managers if the Hunt family makes wholesale changes, which may be likely. The Chiefs badly need a quarterback, but there is a nucleus there for a franchise that is on pace for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. That will appeal to a lot of potential hires.
  • It was nice to see Kansas City punter Dustin Colquitt get recognized. I don’t think the Chiefs deserved five Pro Bowl selections (I think Eric Berry and Tamba Hali made it on reputation and not production), but Colquitt had a fine season. He is one of the league’s most consistent and underrated punters. Colquitt has 42 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line this season. The NFL record is 44. The AFC West is the crown jewel of punters. San Diego’s Mike Scifres was an also a top contender and Oakland’s Shane Lechler is an all-time great. He has been named to nine Pro Bowls. At 36, Lechler -- a pending free agent -- slipped a bit this season. Meanwhile, Colquitt’s little brother, Denver punter Britton Colquitt, was a Pro Bowl alternate. It’s a heck of a group.
  • The omission of Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who has six field goals of 50 or more yards this season, is squarely on the players and coaches. He got the fan’s vote. Each group has a third of the voting.
  • Here’s a great quote from Denver cornerback Champ Bailey on where he really wants to end this season: “At some point I want to be able to tell the people at the Pro Bowl that I’m not coming because I’m playing in the Big Game. That’s really what my eyes are on, just making sure we keep winning and get to that Big Game.” Bailey and teammate Peyton Manning were each voted to their 12th Pro Bowl. They are tied for the fifth most in NFL history. Manning’s 12 Pro Bowls set the record for quarterbacks. You think he’ll make the Hall of Fame?
  • Denver announced its alternates. Here they are: wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (1st alternate), guard Chris Kuper (2nd alternate), guard Zane Beadles (3rd alternate), special teamer David Bruton (3rd alternate), punter Britton Colquitt (3rd alternate) and wide receiver Eric Decker (5th alternate).
  • San Diego safety Eric Weddle expressed his thoughts of being snubbed to U-T San Diego. Weddle is one of the bigger snubs on the AFC team, in my opinion.
  • Meanwhile, the Chargers’ finale against Oakland has been ruled a sell out and it will be shown on local television.

 

AFC West Pro Bowl primer

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
10:00
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The Pro Bowl teams will be announced Wednesday evening. Here's a look at some of the candidates for each team in the division:

Denver Broncos:

Players: Champ Bailey (cornerback), Zane Beadles (guard), Ryan Clady (tackle), Eric Decker (receiver), Elvis Dumervil (defensive end), Peyton Manning (quarterback) Von Miller (linebacker), Demaryius Thomas (receiver), Wesley Woodyard (linebacker).

Best bets: Bailey, Clady, Manning, Miller, Thomas.

Kansas City Chiefs:

Players: Branden Albert (tackle), Jamaal Charles (linebacker), Dustin Colquitt (punter), Justin Houston (linebacker), Derrick Johnson (linebacker).

Best bets: Charles, Johnson.

Oakland Raiders:

Players: Sebastian Janikowski (kicker), Shane Lechler (punter), Brandon Myers (tight end) Marcel Reece (fullback), Carson Palmer (quarterback), Philip Wheeler (linebacker), Stefen Wisniewski (guard).

Best bets: Janikowski, Myers

San Diego Chargers:

Players: Donald Butler (linebacker), Corey Liuget (defensive end), Mike Scifres (punter) Louis Vasquez (guard), Eric Weddle (safety).

Best bets: Butler, Weddle.

AFC West blackouts looming

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
5:25
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Oakland’s home game against Cleveland on Sunday will be blacked out on local television. It stops a 13-game streak in which games were shown on local television. The Chargers’ home game against Cincinnati on Sunday is also blacked out. It’s the Chargers’ second straight blackout.

In other AFC West news:

In San Diego, linebacker Donald Butler (groin), safety Darrell Stuckey (hamstring) and receiver Eddie Royal (hamstring) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, and the team is preparing to play against Cincinnati on Sunday without them. Linebacker Jarret Johnson (back) and punter Mike Scifres (ankle) were limited Thursday. However, safety Eric Weddle (concussion), guard Tyronne Green (hamstring) linebacker Antwan Barnes (hamstring) and linebacker Larry English (calf) all practiced fully Thursday after they were all limited Wednesday. Barring setbacks, they should be able to play Sunday.

Kansas City safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder) did not practice for the second straight day. Receiver Dexter McCluster (head) was not limited in pactice Thursday after not practicing Wednesday.

Denver defensive end Robert Ayers missed his second straight day of practice. He is away from the team because of the death of his father.

All-AFC West midseason team

November, 7, 2012
11/07/12
11:00
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NFC Midseason Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

We present our 2012 AFC West midseason team.

A few notes before we get to the list.

I used a 3-4 defense because half of the division (Kansas City and San Diego) uses it as a base defense and I thought the linebackers were stronger in the first half so I wanted to recognize four of them. This list features the best players at the position, so I used two left tackles instead of forcing a right tackle, two tailbacks instead of a fullback, etc.

The list features 10 Broncos, eight Chargers, five Raiders and three Chiefs. Coincidentally, that is the order of the division standings halfway through the season.

Let’s point out some picks of note. Some may be surprised to see Denver defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson on the list. If you talked to NFL scouts, you wouldn’t be. He’s been strong.

I really like this group of linebackers. I wanted to find a place for the Chiefs’ Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, but I felt like I needed to get San Diego’s Donald Butler, Oakland's Philip Wheeler and Denver’s Wesley Woodyard on the list. Again, this was a very tough position to choose from.

I could have gone in several directions at receiver. Many receivers in the division are having terrific seasons. Can’t go wrong with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, though.

Mike Scifres over Shane Lechler? Yes, Lechler is an all-time great, but Scifres is having a better season.

This isn’t a great year for returners in the division. I was going to go with San Diego’s Richard Goodman, but he is out for the season. Holliday returned a touchdown for a score in Week 9, so he’s your winner despite playing just three games with Denver.

On to the list. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to say in the comments section below.

We conclude our AFC West positional rankings series with the kicking specialists. Friday, I will wrap up the ranking madness with my top 40 players in the division regardless of position. Now onto the best group of kickers and punters in the NFL. I’m not blowing smoke here. This is one deep group. Even the players at the bottom of this list are standouts:

1. Shane Lechler, Oakland: You could call him the greatest punter to ever and have a strong argument.

2. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland: Janikowski is getting better with age. He has found consistency to go along with his spectacular leg.

3. Mike Scifres, San Diego: Always overshadowed by Lechler, Scifres is a standout himself.

4. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City: He’d probably be the best punter in five or six divisions.

5. Matt Prater, Denver: He has a big leg and he’s clutch. He’s excellent.

6. Britton Colquitt, Denver: Dustin’s little brother is making a name for himself.

7. Ryan Succop, Kansas City: He has a long career ahead of him.

8. Nate Kaeding/Nick Novak, San Diego: This will be a battle to watch, Novak kicked well after Kaeding was injured in Week 1. Both are quality kickers.
The San Diego Chargers got the news they expected about kicker Nate Kaeding since Sunday night.

The reliable placekicker is out for the year after he suffered a torn ACL on the opening play of the 2011 season, a kickoff that Minnesota’s Percy Harvin took back 103 yards for a touchdown in an eventual 24-17 San Diego win.

There were strong indications Sunday that Kaeding -- who was ably replaced by punter Mike Scifres -- would be out for the year. The Chargers will work out kickers Tuesday and make a quick decision.

San Diego will miss Kaeding. He is a consummate pro and he is very accurate. His injury has to be pegged on the Chargers’ special teams, which ruined last season.

While the unit looked good in the preseason and it improved during Sunday’s game, there is no way Kaeding should have to try to make a tackle. Now, he’s out for the season and it will be up to his replacement to keep up his end of the unit.

The Chargers did get better news on defensive end Luis Castillo. He has a broken leg, but he could be back later in the season. The San Diego Union Tribune reports the team will likely bring back Ogemdi Nwagbuo to take Castillo’s place. Nwagbuo is a solid player who was one of the team’s toughest cuts.

The team also got good news on the knee injury suffered by running back Mike Tolbert, who scored all three of San Diego’s touchdowns Sunday. Tolbert is expected to be fine.
Mike TolbertDonald Miralle/Getty ImagesSan Diego running back Mike Tolbert scored a clutch late touchdown for the Chargers in their win over the Vikings.
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers lumbered off the field after a first half that couldn’t have gone any worse.

The Chargers -- who trailed the Minnesota Vikings 17-7 -- were sent the locker room by a hearty round of boos. The message from the San Diego crowd, which has understandably grown impatient after seeing this talented team stumble early year after year, was clearly: Please, not again.

The Chargers, though, didn’t let the fans’ restlessness or the seriousness of the situation get them down. In fact, safety Eric Weddle had his own message for anyone who might be concerned.

“We are not the 2010 San Diego Chargers,” Weddle said of the team that led the NFL in total offense and total defense but failed to make the playoffs. “It may not have looked too good, but we are not going to lose the game in one play or in one half. It is not going to happen. We did not waver. It came along. We knew it would.”

Showing the resiliency and timeliness of a championship team, the Chargers overcame their first-half troubles and took over in the second half, beating the Vikings 24-17.

While some may not be impressed that it took a furious rally to beat the Vikings at home, this win is significant because of how the Chargers responded to a dire situation. After spending a large chunk of training camp dedicated to fixing the NFL’s worst special teams, San Diego watched Percy Harvin take the opening kickoff 103 yards for a score. To add further anguish, Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding was lost for the game on the play, making punter Mike Scifres the team’s place-kicker. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Kaeding may have a torn ACL.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers looked uncomfortable and rusty in the first half as he couldn’t quite make the play that counted most. The Chargers went deep into Minnesota territory twice in the first half and netted no points.

And there was the case of the San Diego defense, which was eaten up by Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson in the first half.

It all added up to a tension-filled halftime by the sea. Was it really going to happen again? Were special teams, key injuries and poor run defense going to undo the Chargers again? Were they going to fall on their face early under Norv Turner again?

“I understand everyone wondering it,” Weddle said. “Here we were in the moment and the same things were happening again … But we were just not ready to go down.”

So perhaps this year will be different. The Chargers are always a tough date late in the season. But there’s no denying it takes Turner’s players a while to ramp it up. Since Turner took over in 2007, the Chargers are 6-8 in September and 7-8 in October. But they are 28-7 in the final two months of the season.

Having to go to New England in Week 2 after a loss to Minnesota would have seriously hampered this team’s demeanor. Now, the Chargers can head east, not worrying about the late-summer blues.

There’s so much to celebrate about this win in San Diego.

[+] EnlargePhilip Rivers
AP Photo/Denis PoroyQuarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers rebounded after a rocky start to down Minnesota on Sunday.
There’s the brilliance of Rivers. There’s the timely play by the defense. There’s the heroics of Scifres. There’s the emergence of running back Ryan Mathews.

But it all starts with Rivers.

For anyone who wants to know why Rivers is considered an elite quarterback despite the fact he doesn’t own a Super Bowl ring, please check the final score of the game. On second down and 10 from the Minnesota 19 late in the fourth quarter, Rivers hit running back Mike Tolbert for a touchdown.

It was much more than a medium-yardage scoring play. Rivers, not famous for his mobility, evaded a Vikings’ rush and showed great patience, waiting for Tolbert to get open. He did, Rivers instantly hit him and Tolbert, who scored all three of the Chargers’ touchdowns, rolled into the end zone.

“That was classic Philip,” Weddle said. ‘He’ll wait all day for a play to happen. That’s why our goal is to get the ball back in his hands so he can make plays like that.”

Rivers (who threw for 335 yards on 33-of-48 passing) and his offensive mates received plenty of help. The Vikings had 161 yards of offense in the first half. They finished the game with 187 yards. Peterson had 74 yards on the ground in the first half. He finished with 98 yards on 16 carries.

Many San Diego defenders said they were fired up during the week when Peterson -- who ran for an NFL record 296 yards against the Chargers in 2007 -- said on a radio show that he planned to run for 200 yards and get a win in Week 1. New Chargers inside linebacker Takeo Spikes was fuming after the game about it. Several Chargers said the coaching staff played a clip of Peterson saying it.

"It was a direct slap in the face,” said Spikes, who had a terrific debut in San Diego with a game-high 11 tackles. “You don't come in our house saying that hey I'm going to get over 200 yards and guarantee a W. That is a disrespect to us. We put in a lot of time in this game; respect every guy in this locker room as a player. I find it hard to believe and you are going to say all that and your success is predicated off the guys up front and with us knowing that. I know our guys up front -- those dogs hunt. … It was personal, absolutely personal.”

Despite the motivation provided by Peterson, the Chargers wouldn’t have won the game if it weren’t for Scifres. The punter, who signed a contract extension during the week, took over for Kaeding and he was perfect, including tying the score with a 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. It was the first field goal of his NFL career.

An added bonus in all this fun for San Diego was the hard running displayed by 2010 No. 1 pick Ryan Mathews. He had 45 yards rushing and 73 yards receiving. He seems like a much improved player from last year.

It’s all another reminder, as Weddle said, that these are not the 2010 San Diego Chargers.
SAN DIEGO -- A look at San Diego's impressive 16-14 comeback victory.

What it means: The Chargers proved they are resilient. Everything crashed in on them as the Vikings took a 17-7 lead at the half. San Diego's special teams -- one of the worst the NFL had ever seen in 2010 -- gave up a 103-yard kickoff return for a score on the opening play. Kicker Nate Kaeding was lost for the game on the play. At the half, the Chargers had to wonder whether they were in for another slow start under Norv Turner. However, San Diego took over on both sides of the ball in the second half. The offense finished drives, and the defense finished Adrian Peterson, who sliced it up in the first half. It wasn’t pretty, but the Chargers showed the resolve of a champion in Week 1.

Tomorrow’s talker: Philip Rivers was shaky and seemed off in the first half. In the second half, he took over. His winning touchdown pass to running back Mike Tolbert was brilliant. He showed great patience and proved what a star he is.

Rookie no more: Running back Ryan Mathews had a terrific game. He ran with authority and confidence. After a so-so rookie season, Mathews looks like a matured player. He can help make this offense special.

Nice save: Game ball to punter Mike Scifres. He took over place-kicking duties when Kaeding went down. Scifres was perfect, including nailing a tying field goal in the fourth quarter from 40 yards. It was his first NFL field goal. Earlier in the game, the Chargers went for it on fourth-and-20 because they didn’t trust Scifres. He signed a contract extension last week. He just earned it.

What's next: San Diego has a huge test next week when it travels to New England. It could be an early playoff preview.

After concentrating on re-signing many veteran players during the free-agent frenzy this summer, the San Diego Chargers continued their history of keeping their own.

Scout.com reports San Diego has extended the deal of punter Mike Scifres. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the deal will be announced later Wednesday. The deal is reportedly worth $19 million with $8 million in guaranteed money. The nine-year veteran had been playing on the same contract since 2005.

It has long been the philosophy of San Diego general manager A.J. Smith to extend his own players and build the program from within. Players such as center Nick Hardwick, cornerback Antoine Cason and running back Mike Tolbert could all be considered for new deals in the next several months.

Scifres is considered one of the best punters in the NFL. He was a victim of San Diego’s poor special teams last season when he had four punts blocked and another punt deflected. But he still performed at a high level.

AFC West notes

September, 6, 2011
9/06/11
1:34
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If Colts quarterback Peyton Manning doesn’t play Sunday, Kansas City center Casey Wiegmann will have the fourth-longest starting streak in the NFL. He has started 159 straight games.

The Chiefs claimed tackle Steve Maneri off waivers from New England. He was on the Patriots’ practice squad for much of last season. The Chiefs had been looking for depth at the position. To make room for him, Kansas City cut tight end Anthony Becht.

NFL.com has details about who is interested in the outcome of a Terrelle Pryor appeal of his five-game suspension to start the season.

San Diego punter Mike Scifres expects to benefit from an improved special teams. Scifres did his job last seasons, but others around him didn’t.

The Chargers added quarterback Drew Willy to the practice squad as a replacement for Scott Tolzien. He was claimed by San Francisco when the Chargers cut him during the weekend. The Chargers wanted to put Tolzien on the practice squad. Willy played college football at Buffalo and he’s been with the practice squads of the Ravens, Colts and Jets.

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