AFC West: Plaxico Burress

Three players Oakland won't sign

September, 13, 2012
Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie told reporters that the team will not sign veteran receivers Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson.

It does end speculation that any of these players could end up in the Silver and Black. But it become obvious none of those players were on McKenzie's list because the Raiders have long been injured at receiver and these players have long been available.

It’s the right call. The Raiders need younger receivers and they don’t players with a high potential for causing distractions. What do you think? It is the right decision to bypass these three receivers? Fill up the comment section below with your thoughts.
The Oakland Raiders reportedly visited with veteran receiver Jabar Gaffney on Wednesday.

The move makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, the Raiders are banged up at receiver. Starter Denarius Moore (hamstring) and No. 3 receiver Jacoby Ford (foot) have been not been practicing for several weeks. The team is hopeful Moore could play Monday against San Diego. Ford’s chances of playing Monday may be more up in the air at this point. Rookie Juron Criner is dealing with an ankle injury, but he has been practicing some.

Right now, the Raiders are relying on starter Darrius Heyward-Bey and undrafted rookie Rod Streater if those players can’t play against the Chargers. Even if Moore can play, the Raiders could use a veteran like Gaffney in the San Diego game.

Even for the long term, if the Raiders want a veteran, I like the idea of adding a player like Gaffney. The Raiders have long been connected to the likes of Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson. However, Gaffney is a much better option in my mind. Gaffney, 31, is younger than those players. He doesn’t carry the baggage those players do and he has been more productive recently.

Gaffney had 68 catches for Washington last season. He was cut by New England in August. Gaffney had success in Denver under Josh McDaniels, who is now the Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

I don’t necessarily think Gaffney is a total impact player, but he’d fill some needs in Oakland, so I think he is worth pursuing.

Meanwhile, the Raiders announced these are their 2012 team captains: quarterback Carson Palmer, running back Darren McFadden, defensive tackle Richard Seymour, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and punter Shane Lechler.
Rod Streater and Juron Criner have been the stories of the summer for the Oakland Raiders.

Good thing. The rookies may be needed when the regular season starts. After two injuries and a now questionable trade, the Raiders are dangerously thin at receiver, which was one of the deepest positions on an otherwise thin roster.

Streater, an undrafted free agent, and Criner, a fifth-round pick, may be called to duty soon. Yes, they have been good -- particular Streater who has 13 catches in the preseason -- but the regular season is a different animal. The two must rise to the challenge.

Starting receiver Denarius Moore has been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury all camp. Fellow starter Darrius Heyward-Bey has a shoulder injury that the team doesn’t think is overly serious. However, No. 3 receiver and return man Jacoby Ford, has a sprained foot on the same foot that cost him several games late last season. Ford’s availability to start the season is in jeopardy.

Oakland traded reliable Louis Murphy to Carolina prior to training camp for a conditional seventh-round pick. The Raiders thought Murphy was expendable because of all of their promising talent at the position. What worried me about that trade was a team with overall depth problems probably shouldn’t give up quality players. The Raiders would feel a lot better right now if Murphy was still in Silver and Black.

Oakland’s receiving group is susceptible, at least, for now. Expect to hear more about the idea of picking up a veteran like Plaxico Burress or Chad Johnson. I’ve been against that idea. I admit, because of the injuries, the idea of Burress or Johnson may be creeping closer to becoming worthwhile.

However, in the long term, I still think Oakland is better off developing its young receivers. That begins with Streater and Criner, who just may get their chance to prove they belong as soon as their NFL careers begin.
A look at the Chargers’ 28-20 home victory over Dallas on Saturday night:

First, some bad, bad news:

Second-year receiver Vincent Brown suffered a broken left ankle. U-T San Diego reports that he will have surgery and will miss at least eight weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if the injury takes even more time to heal. What a shame.

Brown looked great this summer and was going to be the Chargers’ No. 3 receiver. This injury means Eddie Royal, who has been hurt during camp, must step up to help this receiving crew.

OK, I know you will ask: Does Brown's injury mean the Chargers could be in on Plaxico Burress or Chad Johnson? Well, it would be unlike San Diego general manager A.J. Smith to add either player, but there is a hole at the position.

This is truly a bad loss for San Diego, which is without starting running back Ryan Mathews for a month or so after he suffered a shoulder injury last week. The Chargers have been ravaged by injuries the past three years and the 2012 season hasn’t started any differently.

The Chargers worked on building depth this offseason; it is paying off in the preseason. The Chargers’ backups led a comeback Saturday night and have looked good in both preseason games.

That is all well and fine, but San Diego’s first-team offense was sloppy again. All 15 of Philip Rivers’ passes were caught Saturday night. But two of them were caught by Cowboys.

Rivers has thrown three interceptions in two preseason games. He was picked off 20 times last season. Rivers has looked really good in the preseason, but interceptions just can’t happen -- he must improve in this area.

Rookie defenders Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes continued to make an impact. These guys are going to be fun to watch.

Backup cornerback Shareece Wright had an interception with a long return. He has looked good this summer.
Oakland coach Dennis Allen told reporters that No. 3 receiver Jacoby Ford may miss some time with a sprained foot.

It is the same foot that cost Ford several games last season. Allen said the injury could keep Ford out of action once the regular season starts. Ford’s injury could mean serious playing time for rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater. It also makes the trade of the reliable Louis Murphy (he was sent to Carolina for a conditional seventh-round pick) look less wise.

Veterans such as Plaxico Burress and Chad Johnson are available. If the Raiders suffer any more injuries at the position or if Ford's lingers, outside help may be necessary at a position that looks thin, at least for now.

The Raiders had several other injuries Friday in a loss at Arizona, but Allen doesn’t think any of them are serious at this point.

Meanwhile, Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb took umbrage with the derogatory comments Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly made about him Friday night.

AFC West notes

August, 12, 2012
Oakland coach Dennis Allen said it is getting close to the point where injured linebacker Aaron Curry might have to miss the season opener. Curry is getting a second opinion on his injured knees. If Curry misses any portion of the season, fourth-round pick Miles Burris will likely start. Burris has promise, but it is not ideal having to start a third-day pick at the start of his career.

San Diego defensive tackle Antonio Garay injured his ankle Saturday, but he thinks he will be fine.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting free-agent receiver Plaxico Burress is going to work out for New England. He had been linked with Oakland, but I’m not convinced the Raiders had or have serious interest.

Schefter reported that Green Bay has officially signed running back Cedric Benson. He was on the verge of signing there since Friday. He has been linked to Oakland for months, but the Raiders never made a move on him. So, it is clear they never really wanted him.
One old, potentially-disruptive receiver down, one to go.

When the Seattle Seahawks signed Terrell Owens on Monday night, it ended long speculation the Raiders could be interested in the receiver. The speculation was fueled by the fact that he is friends with Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer and he worked out with Palmer and some Oakland receivers this offseason.

With Owens off the market, that leaves Plaxico Burress as the most talked about would-be Oakland receiver. Like Owens, I have been against the Raiders pursuing Burress. For the Raiders’ sake, I hope Burress signs elsewhere.

I truly don’t believe the Raiders will sign Burress unless they suffer some injuries at receiver or unless their receiver group flops in the preseason. I don’t think the Raiders need Burress. Their young receiving group is exciting and it has a chance to shine. But it has to be given that chance.

Adding Burress to the mix would take away repetitions and opportunities from the likes of Juron Criner and Rod Streater. Oakland is a growing program. If the Raiders are going to be a factor for the long term, it will be because of players like Criner and Streater not players like Burress, who turns 35 in five days.

And I think the Raiders are good enough at receiver with Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford now that signing Burress is not necessary. Again, I never thought Owens was high on the radar of Oakland’s management but his signing elsewhere ended any potential temptation. Now, the same has to happen with Burress.

Evening AFC West notes

August, 3, 2012
The Raiders start to put in some 3-4 looks for the defense during practice Friday. The fact that they waited until the fifth day of camp is another strong sign that this will be a 4-3 base with the occasional 3-4 setup.

The Denver Post reports that Broncos safety Quinton Carter will miss the first two preseason games because he had minor knee surgery this week. He was hurt early in camp, where he was competing with Rahim Moore for a starting job. Denver is also looking at veteran Jim Leonhard. He reportedly is going to visit Saturday.

Great quote by Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles, who is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, when asked about his confidence level: “I’m out here practicing every day. I’m not scared.”

According to reports, Oakland fifth-round pick Juron Criner had a huge day Friday. He was a star during organized team activities, so it is nice for the Raiders to see him play well in a camp practice. On the flip side, starting cornerback Shawntae Spencer has been struggling.

That is not good for a team without much veteran experience at the position. Yes, second-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke had a terrific week, but Spencer will be needed. At this point, injured veteran Ronald Bartell and Van Dyke might be your best bets to be the starting cornerbacks in Week 1.

After receiver Plaxico Burress mentioned the Raiders as a team he would play for, Oakland coach Dennis Allen was asked if the interest was mutual. Let’s be real. Burress will play anywhere that will sign him.

Allen didn’t kill the idea, saying that everything will be considered. But this is important: He didn’t add fuel, either. My take is that Oakland will continue to try to develop its young receivers. If the need for a veteran becomes apparent later in camp, perhaps the Raiders could investigate Burress, but I wouldn’t count on it.
It's clear Plaxico Burress wants to play in the NFL in 2012.

And it’s also clear that he’d play anywhere. The receiver, who will turn 35 in August, appeared on SiriusXM NFL Radio with hosts Adam Schein and Rich Gannon.

Gannon asked Burress his thoughts on Carolina, Oakland and Miami as possible destinations. Burress said yes, yes and yes.

Here is his response: “You just ran off some good teams. I spoke with Cam [Newton] a few times this offseason when he was down here working out in South Florida. I didn’t get a chance to work out with him but I know he’s a very hard worker. Steve Smith is obviously, in my book, one of the top five receivers in all of football. He has been that kind of player for some time now. … Oakland, I’ve always thought that Carson Palmer has been one of the best deep-ball throwers in all of football since I can remember. … They do have some great talent over there in Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy. I think those guys are only going to get better with Carson. … The Miami Dolphins. I ran into Reggie Bush a few weeks ago at the Heat-Celtics game and he was just saying, ‘Man, please, just come down here and make some plays, and we’re going to have the receiver to go up and get the ball in the red zone and things like that.’ I said, ‘Hey, man, you know, when my phone rings, hey, you never know.’”

My thoughts on Burress’ idea of playing in Oakland? Just because the Raiders were one of the team’s Gannon mentioned doesn’t mean it is a good fit.

Burress had 45 catches for the Jets last season, his first back in the league after missing two years while he was in prison.

The thought of adding Burress, in my mind, is a lot like the idea of the Raiders signing Terrell Owens. I just think the Raiders would be better off developing their young stable of receivers than adding one of these two aging players.
Linebacker Larry English was drafted in 2009 by the San Diego Chargers to be the eventual replacement for the injury prone Shawne Merriman.

Will the same fate happen to English in the next draft?

Like Merriman, English has been hampered by injuries in his short NFL career and he just took another hit. English was put on the injured reserve Wednesday with a broken foot. English, who played in five games this season with no starts, has started just four games. He missed nine of the past 20 games due to injury.

The No. 16 overall pick of the 2009 draft has been mostly ineffective when he has played. When he was drafted out of Northern Illinois, English was known for having a high motor and the Chargers thought he’d become a strong pass-rusher.

Now, his San Diego career could be up in the air. I wouldn’t be surprised if English is given his fourth NFL season to show he can help the Chargers. But he is far from considered a sure thing any longer.

The Chargers signed rookie tackle Stephen Schilling from the practice squad. To replace English, rookie running back Jordan Todman was signed to the practice squad. He was cut from the Chargers’ 53-man roster Saturday.

Meanwhile, the feeling out of San Diego on Wednesday was that right cornerback Antoine Cason will likely be benched in favor of rookie Marcus Gilchrist. It has been discussed in San Diego since Cason gave up three touchdowns to Plaxico Burress in the Chargers’ 27-21 loss to the Jets on Sunday.

Report: Larry English injured again

October, 25, 2011
The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting Chargers' 2009 first-round pick Larry English has suffered another broken foot. He clearly will miss extensive time if could land on the injured reserve.

The paper writes that injuries could potentially derail English’s San Diego career. The former No. 16 overall pick has missed nine of the past 20 games due to injury. He missed time with a foot injury last year.

English has potential, but if he can’t stay healthy the Chargers will eventually lose patience.

Meanwhile, there has been a lot of talk that rookie Marcus Gilchrist could replace Antoine Cason at cornerback in San Diego. Cason has struggled in Greg Manusky’s defense this season. Cason gave up three touchdowns to the Jets’ Plaxico Burress in the Chargers' 27-21 loss on Sunday. Don’t be surprised if Cason gets another a chance to start Monday night at Kansas City. Yet, if Cason does start, his leash likely won’t be long.
  • The Raiders are now looking at second-year offensive lineman Bruce Campbell at tackle. He was considered a potential starter at guard. Campbell is a project, but he has immense physical ability.
  • There is talk rookie Colin Baxter and Jordan Todman will land on the Chargers’ practice squad. Baxter was cut by the Jets on Tuesday. The Chargers cut him in September and were disappointed that the Jets signed him and blocked him from their practice squad. Todman, a sixth-round pick, was cut by the Chargers during the weekend.
  • Denver safety Brian Dawkins is celebrating a milestone.
  • The Chiefs waived receiver Jeremy Horne.

One player to watch

October, 24, 2011
A key player to watch in Week 8 for each AFC West team:

Denver: J.D. Walton, center: The Broncos' second-year center will have his hands full with the Lions’ aggressive defensive line Sunday. Detroit’s pressure begins with Ndamukong Suh. He’ll be coming after Tim Tebow, and Walton will have to set the tone. Tebow was dropped seven times in Miami, so Walton and crew will have to improve quickly.

Kansas City: Brandon Flowers, cornerback: Flowers had a terrific game at Oakland in Week 7. He had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown. The Chargers’ passing game is coming off a shaky performance at the Jets in Week 7. Philip Rivers will be looking to get back on track Monday night at Kansas City, so Flowers will be in the spotlight again.

San Diego: Antoine Cason, cornerback: Cason struggled against the Jets’ Plaxico Burress on Sunday as he gave upon three touchdowns to Burress. The Chiefs’ passing offense has been coming on strong, so I’m sure Cason will be challenged again Monday night. He needs to answer the challenge.

Oakland is on a bye.

Early AFC West notes

July, 31, 2011
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Jets are closing in on a deal to retain cornerback Antonio Cromartie. He had been connected to the Raiders as a replacement for Nnamdi Asomugha. I don’t think it’s the end of the world that the Raiders aren’t getting him. Cromartie is a tad overrated and may not be worth the cost.

With the Jets bringing in Plaxico Burress, they should be out of the Malcom Floyd chase. The receiver market may be shrinking. San Diego has been expected to bring back Floyd, but it the market totally dries up, you never know.

Oakland coach Hue Jackson raved about second-year linebacker Rolando McClain.

Second-year San Diego running back Ryan Mathews has struggled with his conditioning early in camp. It’s no big deal. But for a player who had a somewhat rocky season, Mathews needs to be in shape by now. It’s definitely something to watch during camp.

Denver’s Elvis Dumervil is excited about John Fox’s history with defensive ends.

An inside look at the Eagles’ successful pursuit of Asomugha.

UPDATE: As expected, Denver restructured the contract of safety Brian Dawkins and finalized the deal for running back Willis McGahee. Both were procedural moves.
On ESPN’s “NFL Live” earlier Monday, analyst Tim Hasselbeck listed the San Diego Chargers as one of the teams that should consider signing receiver Plaxico Burress, who was recently was released from prison.

Does it make sense?

First of all, he will be 34 and he has missed the past two NFL seasons. I’m not sure San Diego general manager A.J. Smith would be interested. Smith has often stayed away from players with character issues.

Plus, depending on the rules of free agency, the Chargers could have Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd as their starting receivers. If that doesn’t develop, San Diego would be on the lookout for a receiver. The Chargers reportedly are planning to monitor Carolina veteran receiver Steve Smith after the lockout. Smith could potentially be made available through a trade.

If the Chargers were looking for a veteran, Burress could be a better fit than Smith, scheme wise. He is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. Smith is 5-foot-9. The Chargers prefer bigger receivers and Burress could look good in San Diego’s receivers’ meeting room.

Still, I would be surprised if San Diego makes Burress a priority when free agency begins unless it expects big changes at the position.

AFC West notes

June, 3, 2011
Catching up on the AFC West headlines on a June Friday evening:

The Oakland Tribune looks at the chances Plaxico Burress will up with the Raiders. Here’s my take on the situation.

The legal guardian of Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor believes he will stay in school rather than entre the NFL supplemental draft this summer. Earlier in the week, we looked at the potential interest in Pryor in the AFC West.

The San Diego Union Tribune continues to keep up on the happenings of the Chargers’ quest for a new stadium.

The Denver Post takes another look at TebowMania.