AFC West: Napoleon Harris Jonathan Stewart

Four players to watch

December, 11, 2008
12/11/08
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is a look at four players who will be playing key roles in games involving AFC West teams Sunday:

Randy Moss: The New England Patriots receiver is returning to Oakland for the first time since the Raiders traded him after the 2006 season. It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction the Oakland fans give Moss. He didn't have a great two seasons in Oakland and the Raiders gave up the No. 7 overall pick in the 2005 draft, plus starting linebacker Napoleon Harris to get Moss. When Oakland traded him, it got just a fourth-round pick in return. Moss regained his star status with the Patriots after two sluggish seasons with the Raiders. There could be a healthy dose of animosity,

Jonathan Stewart: The Carolina rookie will be playing against Denver this week. The Broncos seriously considered drafting Stewart out of Oregon to be their answer at tailback. However, Denver had a greater need at left tackle and it took Ryan Clady with the No. 12 pick. Carolina took Stewart with the next choice. The Broncos are thrilled with Clady, who has been near flawless. He is a Pro Bowl candidate as a rookie. Stewart has also been productive for the Panthers. While the Broncos wouldn't trade Clady for anyone in the 2008 draft, they surely know Stewart could be a load Sunday.

Tyler Thigpen: It will be interesting to see how Thigpen reacts this week against visiting San Diego. After Sunday's loss at Denver, Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said he thought Thigpen relies too much on tight end Tony Gonzalez. Meanwhile, Gonzalez independently said it would be a "disgrace" if Thigpen wasn't given a chance to be the team's starting quarterback next season. Edwards wasn't being overly critical. He said it is just part of a young quarterback's progression. So Thigpen will likely take it to heart. However, it would be difficult for any quarterback to bypass Gonzalez. He has been red hot in the second half of the season.

LaDainian Tomlinson: The Chargers' running back isn't having his best season, but he can further cement his place as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL Sunday at Kansas City. He has 122 career rushing touchdowns and he is one shy of Marcus Allen for second place. Emmitt Smith is the all-time leader with 164.

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