AFC West: Reggie Bush

Mailbag: Danario Alexander's future

February, 13, 2013
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Mid-week mail call:

Trevor from North Dakota wants to know if I think the Denver will go after running back Reggie Bush in free agency.

Bill Williamson: Denver will surely look for a running back in some form, but I doubt if Bush will be a target. Denver has a smallish back in Ronnie Hillman. The Broncos are excited about Hillman and they will increase his role in his second NFL season. So, I don’t see Bush being a great fit.

Joe Smith from Augusta, Ga., wants to know if I think the Raiders can take Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner in the first round of the draft.

BW: Milliner would be a great fit for the Raiders. Cornerback is their top need and he is the best prospect at the position. But the only way Milliner ends up in Oakland is they trade down, which the team would like to do. Milliner will probably be taken in the 7-15 range. The Raiders have the No. 3 pick. The top prospects in that range are pass-rushers and Oakland may go that route because of value.

Tom from California wants to know if I think the Chargers will retain restricted free agent receiver Danario Alexander.

BW: Alexander certainly opened eyes for the Chargers when he was signed off the street during the season. Alexander had 37 catches and seven touchdowns in 10 games with the Chargers. Alexander is 6-foot-5, 217 pounds and he is just 24. He is a talent and at a position where the Chargers need talent. I think the odds are strong he will be with the Chargers this season. Restricted free agents rarely move and the unrestricted free agent receiver class is strong. So, I think the Chargers will give Alexander a big opportunity in 2013 and then try to sign him to a long-term deal if he responds well.

Is Reggie Bush a fit in Oakland?

January, 28, 2013
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CBS Sports is reporting that running back Reggie Bush is unlikely to return to the Miami Dolphins.

I have been getting a lot of questions about whether or not Bush could fit the Oakland Raiders as a free agent. I understand the question.

The Raiders could use a second running back and he played for new Oakland offensive line coach Tony Sparano in 2011 when Sparano was the Dolphins’ head coach. Bush had a career high 1,086 yards that season. Also, Bush was in New Orleans when Oakland coach Dennis Allen was a defensive assistant coach in New Orleans.

So, the connections are there. But I just don’t see the fit.

The Raiders need a bigger complement to starter Darren McFadden. Bush is not the big, short-yardage back Oakland could use.

Also, with so many needs on defense and with tight salary-cap restraints; I don’t see a player like Bush being targeted by Oakland.
Midweek mail call:

Bill from San Diego wants to know if I think native sons Reggie Bush and Alex Smith could join the hometown Chargers.

Bill Williamson: Smith is not an option. He wouldn’t start in San Diego and I don’t think he would want to come as a backup. Bush could perhaps fit, depending on the thoughts of the new coaching staff, but I don’t think he’d be a focal point or a priority.


Chris from San Diego wants to know if Andy Reid will try to keep free-agent receiver Dwayne Bowe,

BW: Good question. Reid has spent money on offense before and he loves receivers. If he thinks Bowe is worth a big deal, I can see Reid really thinking about it. I think the odds of Bowe staying in Kansas City are greater with this regime than had the previous regime been kept.


Antonio from San Diego wants to know if I think Kansas City left tackle Branden Albert could sign with the Chargers in free agency.

BW: Like Bowe, I think Albert may be sticking with the Chiefs. In fact, I think Albert’s chances of staying in Kansas City are greater than Bowe because he may be a bigger candidate to be franchised. But if Albert does get on the open market, I could see the Chargers being interested. Left tackle is their biggest need. The Chargers will have to fill it in either free agency or the draft.
Here are some highlights from our AFC West chat, held earlier Thursday:

Denver

McNutty from Seattle: Does the signing of [Joel] Dreessen and [Jacob] Tamme (Dreesetamme) mean that Denver is not counting on Julius Thomas this year?

Bill Williamson: They are giving Thomas time. Tamme and Dreessen are ready to go. Thomas is a developmental player. If he comes on strong (as he did in camp last year before he was injured), he'll get his chance.

Kansas City

Atilla from St. Louis: Bill - what do you see that makes you believe that [Jon] Baldwin can make the step to become a better than average receiver. I was not impressed with the fight issues last year, and I hoping he grew from that experience. His best catch was one that was nullified against Denver behind the safety's back.

BW: He has big ability and he fits the offense. He has a chance. But he has to keep his head on straight.

Oakland

Scott Seymour from Anaheim, Calif.: Which AFC West team has the best receiver group?

BW: I think Oakland has a chance to be the deepest in the division. Really, it's a young group of receivers throughout the division and I want to see which group steps up. But I do like how deep Oakland's receivers are.

San Diego

Sergio from Tijuana, Mexico: Hi Bill, what expectations do you have for Robert Meachem, can he be this year's Reggie Bush and live up to expectations with more playing time in SD?

BW: He will be given a huge opportunity. He has great speed and he is a vertical threat. That is perfect for Philip Rivers' arm and Norv Turner's scheme. They expect him to be a difference maker. I think health is the key for him.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ long journey for a new offensive coordinator took them back to one of the first names that popped up for the job.

Daboll
Daboll
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting the Chiefs will hire Brian Daboll as coordinator of the potentially dangerous offense. Daboll, 36, was a finalist along with Kansas City quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn and Al Saunders, a former Kansas City offensive coordinator who was just replaced in Oakland.

Daboll emerged as an early candidate. He continues the New England Way in Kansas City. He was in New England with Kansas City general manger Scott Pioli and Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel during the last decade.

There were reports last month that the Chiefs were looking for a dynamic offensive coordinator and Schefter reported that former Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman, who ended up as the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, was on the Chiefs' radar. While Daboll is considered a promising young coach, it would be inaccurate to describe his previous experience as an NFL offensive coordinator as dynamic.

He was the Browns’ offensive coordinator from 2009-2010 and he was Miami’s offensive coordinator in 2011. Those offenses struggled. However, Miami’s offense made strides in the second half of last season and running back Reggie Bush had his best NFL season under Daboll’s guidance.

Daboll has a reputation for being a hard-edged coach. He was particularly hard on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy when he was a rookie in 2010.

Daboll’s hiring may be a good sign for Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel. They worked together for two years in New England. Both Pioli and Crennel said this week that Cassel will face competition. It is not known yet if the team will bring in someone to legitimately push Cassel or not.

Daboll is inheriting a potentially strong offense. The team will get star running back Jamaal Charles back after he blew out his knee in Week 2. Promising tight end Tony Moeaki will be back after missing the entire season with a knee injury. The passing game has a chance to be very good, particularly if free agent Dwayne Bowe returns. So, there are plenty of pieces for Daboll to work with.

It will be interesting to see if Zorn stays or if the Chiefs bring in a new quarterbacks coach. The Kansas City Star reported that Zorn may quit if he didn’t get the promotion.

UPDATE: NFL.com reported Saturday that Zorn will stay in Kansas City unless the Steelers approach him for their offensive coordinator job. This decision should serve the Chiefs well. Zorn had a good relationship with the quarterbacks last year and keeping him will ensure continuity.

McFadden has become a complete player

September, 23, 2011
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Darren McFaddenAP Photo/Joe MahoneyOakland's Darren McFadden is second in the NFL with 222 rushing yards through two games.

When the Oakland Raiders took Darren McFadden with the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2008, the general consensus was that they would be getting a Reggie Bush-type tailback.

A game-breaker at Arkansas, McFadden had the look of a player who would be a change-of-pace back who could help the Raiders in certain situations. Early in his fourth season, however, McFadden has blown past Bush on the running back pecking order. Truth be told, McFadden is closer to Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson than he is to Bush.

McFadden has developed into Oakland’s best offensive player and he is a primary reason why there is legitimate playoff hope for a team that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2002. The New York Jets’ vaunted defense hits Oakland on Sunday, and trying to stop McFadden will be Job 1.

Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders has been around Hall of Fame running backs such as Marcus Allen and Marshall Faulk in his 28-year career as an NFL coach. He thinks McFadden is one of the best tailbacks he has seen.

“I’ve been fortunate to be around some great running backs, but he’s one of those guys you put in that class,” Saunders said. “He’s a young kid that has just tremendous speed and tremendous potential, he catches the ball extremely well and I think he established what he is last year and he’s continuing to follow in that way this year.”

After his first two seasons were sullied by injuries, McFadden became a legitimate bell-cow back last year when he ran for 1,157 yards. He averaged a stout 5.2 yards per carry. McFadden is off to a fine start this season with 222 yards (7 yards behind Buffalo’s Fred Jackson for the NFL lead) on 42 carries, an average of 5.3 yards a carry. McFadden led the NFL in runs of 20 yards or more last season. He has three 20-plus runs already this season.

[+] EnlargeOakland's Darren McFadden
AP Photo/David Duprey"He is a nightmare to prepare for because, you don't know which way he is going to go," teammate Richard Seymour said of Darren McFadden.
“He’s become a complete player,” Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said of McFadden. “I’ve become a believer.”

While McFadden will always be known for his speed, what is helping him become a special NFL player is his versatility and toughness. He's not just a fly-and-bye player. He has fine hands (he had seven catches for 71 yards in a loss at Buffalo last week) as a receiver and he has become a viable inside runner. Unlike Bush, McFadden (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) isn’t afraid to go inside.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, McFadden averaged 5.4 yards up the middle against the Broncos in a Week 1 win.

“I think people really don’t know that about me,” said McFadden, who was a star high school safety in North Little Rock, Ark. “I’m very proud of my ability to go inside. I think that is important for a back to go inside as well as outside and I like being tough and going inside.”

Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour said McFadden must rank among the NFL’s best backs because of his toughness.

“Going against him in nine-on-seven drills in camp, you can see how special he is,” Seymour said. “He goes strong inside unlike guys with his speed. But if you are waiting for him to come hard inside, he can always pop one and be gone. He is a nightmare to prepare for because you don’t know which way he is going to go.”

When he was traded to Oakland from Washington last year, quarterback Jason Campbell admitted he didn’t know too much about McFadden, who had only 217 total carries in his first two NFL seasons. However, Campbell was pleasantly surprised to find out he has a versatile back to work with.

“Nationally, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” Campbell said. “This is a complete back. He does it all for our offense. People don’t realize how tough this guy is.”

Never one to shy away from contact, McFadden’s preseason was snuffed out when he broke his orbital bone in an early-camp practice after making a big block on an linebacker. While McFadden is rough and tumble, there are durability concerns. He missed 10 games in his first three NFL seasons. But that's not going to keep him from playing running back the way he does.

“I’m a physical guy,” McFadden said. "I’m going to put my shoulder down and get after it and try to make every play I can.”

That doesn’t sound like your ordinary change-of-pace back.
In the end, Darren Sproles received more money than what the San Diego Chargers wanted to pay him. So, after paying him more than $13 million the past two years combined, the Chargers say good-bye to the exciting, diminutive do-everything offensive weapon.

Sproles reportedly agreed to terms with New Orleans, where he’ll replace Reggie Bush.

The Chargers would have liked to bring back Sproles, but they have long expected that he likely would not return. The Chargers didn’t want to overpay for a luxury player anymore. Sproles’ fate was virtually sealed when the Chargers took Connecticut running back/returner Jordan Todman in the sixth round. He will fill Sproles’ role.

The Chargers feel good about their running backs, Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, and are ready to move on.

Sproles leaves with a good legacy. He was an explosive player and he had several highlights in his San Diego career. Who’ll ever forget the 2008 playoff game against Indianapolis when he virtually took the Chargers on his back and won the game?

Sproles had his time in San Diego and he was paid well for it. But now, it’s time for both the team and for him to move on.
The Oakland Tribune has reported the Raiders have signed second-round pick Stefen Wisniewski and have just one more pick to sign, third-round pick Joe Barksdale. He is in Napa and waiting to sign. The Raiders start practice this afternoon. Wisniewski, Oakland’s first pick, is expected to start at center.

He is the nephew of former Oakland offensive lineman Steve Wisniewski, who is an assistant offensive line coach in Oakland. The family has been waiting for this reunion to officially start.

In other AFC West nuggets:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on "SportsCenter" the New Orleans Saints could make a run at versatile San Diego running back Darren Sproles now that they traded Reggie Bush to Miami. Sproles would fill Bush’s role in New Orleans.

I haven’t heard Sproles’ name much in the past two days, but because of his ability to rush the ball, receive the ball and return it, he does have value. The Chargers are getting tight against the cap after all their moves and they were resigned to letting Sproles leave. But if the market doesn’t develop for him, perhaps San Diego will revisit him. Yet, the opening in New Orleans could change Sproles’ market quickly.

As expected, Tennessee will cut quarterback Vince Young on Thursday. I could envision his name connected to Oakland in a backup role. But the Raiders do like Kyle Boller.

Denver safety Renaldo Hill was not at the Broncos’ first training camp practice. It could mean the team is planning to cut him later Thursday.

AFC West mailbag

June, 11, 2011
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Weekend mail call:

Alex Perry from Wichita, Kan., wants to know what are the chances of former Kansas City and San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bill Williamson: Alex, Marty was a fabulous coach, and he certainly has a rich history in the AFC West. However, I think it will be mighty difficult for him to be elected into the Hall of Fame. There is a major backlog at many positions. Many Super Bowl-winning coaches have long waits. Thus, a good coach like Schottenheimer who doesn’t have a Super Bowl on his résumé is not going to get a lot of support.

Brady from Fort Bragg, N.C., wants to know what the 2012 NFL draft order will be if the 2011 season is wiped out by the lockout.

BW: Brady, I get that question a lot. The answer is … nobody is saying. The league has been asked that question countless times, and it doesn’t have an answer. I don’t think the league even wants to deal with that. It wants there to be a season in 2011. If there is not, there will be many, many problems, and the draft order is just one of them. If it does get to that point and the lockout wipes out the entire 2011 season, my guess is the 2012 draft order would revert to the 2011 draft order. But that’s just a guess. Let’s hope that is a scenario that doesn’t develop.

Reynell Cabusas from Modesto, Calif., wants to know if the Chargers could land Terrell Owens, Steve Smith or Reggie Bush this offseason.

BW: The Chargers probably won’t pursue T.O. They never have before. I don’t see that changing. Reggie Bush may not be available, I don’t know if the Chargers would shell out big dollars for the local kid if he does become available. I’d say the best bet is Carolina receiver Steve Smith through a trade. It has been reported that Smith would like a trade to San Diego. It has also been reported that the Chargers will monitor Smith, who could be a solid complementary receiver for them. So, of the three possibilities, I’d say Smith is the most likely to end up in San Diego.

Early Friday thoughts

April, 29, 2011
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Some early Friday thoughts as we prepare for Friday night’s action:

The Kansas City Chiefs were the inspiration for the bungled mess between the Baltimore Ravens and the Chicago Bears. The Ravens were on the clock at No. 26, Kansas City was at No. 27 and Chicago was at No. 29. The Ravens and Bears were trying to finalize a trade, but time expired on the Ravens. The Bears admitted that it was their fault.

The Chiefs jumped on the rare pass and took Pitt receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The Bears had to be relieved. They were trying to move ahead of the Chiefs because they wanted Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi and they thought Kansas City would take him. The Bears ended up with Carimi at No. 29.

Some were surprised that the Chiefs took Baldwin because he was considered by many as a second-round pick. But the Chiefs coveted Baldwin who will be the team’s No. 2 receiver. The Pitt product is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and is a polished receiver.

Kansas City coach Todd Haley has enjoyed success with another big receiver from Pitt in Arizona star Larry Fitzgerald. Haley can only hope Baldwin will develop into that type of weapon.

The Chargers’ selection of Illinois’ defensive end Corey Liuget at No. 18 very much means the end of the starting career of Jacques Cesaire in San Diego. Expect Liuget to be an instant starter.

Oakland coach Hue Jackson said the Raiders fielded plenty of calls in the first round but they didn’t see a trade that made sense. Jackson also took time to defend his habit of calling Oakland owner Al Davis, “Coach Davis.” He was recently criticized by a Bay Area columnist for using the term. My thoughts: Let Jackson call his boss whatever he wants.

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing rumors of New Orleans’ running back Reggie Bush going to his hometown of San Diego as a replacement for Darren Sproles. But like Sproles, Bush will be pricey.

US PresswireThe Raiders have to figure out a way to effectively use both of their running backs, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush.
The quarterback battle will not be the only intrigue in the backfield during Oakland’s training camp this summer.

Raiders coach Tom Cable said this week during the NFL owners meetings that running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush will compete for the starting job.

Unlike Oakland’s quarterback battle between bust-in-waiting JaMarcus Russell and feisty journeyman Bruce Gradkowski, Oakland’s running back competition could really help the team. Let’s face it, Oakland’s quarterback situation is murky at best. Even if the admirable Gradkowski wins the job, he is not likely a long-term answer.

The running game is potentially Oakland’s best chance for offensive success.

Cable has indicated he'd like either McFadden or Bush to step up and become a premier tailback. It seems McFadden, who has been a disappointment since being picked fourth overall in the 2008 draft, could have the first chance to separate himself.

But Cable wants to see one of them become a standout.

“We’ll move forward with those two guys,” Cable said. “I think it will help both of them that they will get more work. But [they are] definitely different one from the other so I think that helps us with what we’re trying to do. Looking at everything, let’s see if we can keep [McFadden] healthy and see what he can do. ...

"The question is can he be an every-down back, and I think he can be.”

While Bush and McFadden both have to make improvements in their game, the Oakland coaching staff also has to do a better job handling them.

Perhaps it will help the entire situation that Justin Fargas was removed from the mix. He was cut earlier this month. While Oakland boasted about its three-man running back committee for the past two years, it never properly used the committee. Now that Fargas is not a factor, Oakland has to construct a way to best use Bush and McFadden.

I truly believe there should be no clear-cut primary back in Oakland. I think Bush and McFadden can be effective in their own roles.

The best way to win in the NFL these days is on the ground and with two backs. Bush is more of a power back who can wear down defenses and McFadden is a speedster who can break a long run at any time.

If Oakland gets both Bush and McFadden rolling together, it can confuse and frustrate defenses. But both players have to show they can handle the load.

Bush started seven games last year. He ran for 589 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 123 attempts. Bush is much too talented to get so few carries.

Oakland used him very inconsistently. He had 10 or more attempts in only six games last year. Oakland did give Bush a total of 38 carries in the final three games.

But Bush has to take better advantage of his carries. In Week 15, he had 133 yards on 18 carries in a win at Denver. In the season finale, Bush had only 18 yards on 10 carries against Baltimore.

“Michael, I think, if he can get comfortable if he’s going to be an every-down guy,” Cable said.

But he doesn’t have to be. McFadden can help as well. But he has to show he can stay healthy. His early career has been hampered by injuries and ineffectiveness. There has to be concern that he will not be able to hold up. I think Cable would be better served by not trying to make McFadden a 20- to 25-carry back. He is best suited to be used like New Orleans uses Reggie Bush.

If McFadden can get eight to 10 carries a game and catches a few passes out of the slot, he can be a terror.

The only way this is going to work if Bush and McFadden work as a tandem. There doesn’t have to be a clear-cut starter in Oakland.

San Diego running back news

February, 27, 2010
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There will likely be daily running back news coming out of San Diego as the Chargerslook to replace LaDainian Tomlinson after his release.

There were some interesting developments Saturday morning:

" The Santa Rosa Press Democrat believes San Francisco could make a run at San Diego's change-of-pace back Darren Sproles, who is expected to hit free agency. Sproles, a dynamic rusher, receiver and return man, would fill several needs for the 49ers.

The Chargers want Sproles back but not at an enormous price. The two sides will continue to talk about a long-term deal.

" If Sproles were to leave, some speculated San Diego native Reggie Bush could replace him. Scratch that possibility.

ESPN.com reports that the Saints will keep Bush in 2010. There had been some thought that New Orleans would cut the speedy Bush.

Who will replace LT in San Diego?

February, 26, 2010
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Icon SMIThe Chargers need to find an answer at running back now that LaDainian Tomlinson is no longer with the team.
One of the top story lines of the NFL offseason will be what San Diego does at running back.

The Chargers probably will bring in at least two new running backs. The team released legend LaDainian Tomlinson this week after he showed -- in his ninth NFL season -- that he could no longer be a reliable lead running back. San Diego may need another tailback to replace change-of-pace standout Darren Sproles, who appears headed to free agency.

San Diego was 31st in rushing last season. It has to find a new spark. Watch for the Chargers -- who are at the NFL scouting combine this week working on improving the position -- to explore trades, free agency and the draft. Expect the draft to be a major option because the current list of available veteran talent is fairly unimpressive.

Here's a list of running backs who could be headed to San Diego:

Jahvid Best, California

How: Draft

The skinny: Best will be closely looked at by San Diego. If he checks out medically --- he had head and neck issues at the end of last season --- the dynamic Best should be available late in the first round. San Diego has the No. 28 pick and may be able to get in on Best. He is a fast, game-breaker type and would work well if San Diego grabbed a big back. But Best also could fit well if the Chargers kept Sproles.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants

How: Trade

The skinny: There has been some thought that the Giants could dangle either Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs in a trade for San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who is being shopped. Bradshaw could be the more likely of the two to be dealt. He’d be a decent rotational option.

Bush

Bush

Reggie Bush, New Orleans

How: Free agency

The skinny: If Bush is cut, the only way San Diego would be interested in this native son is if Sproles left. This is a long shot.

Tashard Choice, Dallas:

How: Trade

The skinny: I get the feeling Choice is the Chargers' top choice among the veteran lot. San Diego inquired about the Cowboys’ backup in the Cromartie conversations. However, Dallas is reluctant to give up Choice. If that changes, San Diego may pounce on him.

Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech

How: Draft

The skinny: Dwyer is a big, strong back. The combine is important for him. If he does well, he could sneak into the first round. If he is average, Dwyer could be had in the second or third round, where San Diego would consider him if it also gets a veteran back.

Toby Gerhart, Stanford

How: Draft

The skinny: Gerhart seems like a player who would intrigue San Diego general manager A.J. Smith. He was a very productive college player and has a big upside. He could be a steal in the third or fourth round. The Southern California native is big and rugged. If he and a veteran were brought in, and Sproles was kept, it could be an exciting time in San Diego.

Jones

Jones

Thomas Jones, New York Jets

How: Free agency

The skinny: Jones is not free yet, but he is expected to be cut. If so, put him at the top of San Diego’s veteran wish list. Even though he is 31 and past his prime, Jones is a tough runner who could help for a year or two. Add Jones with a rookie and Sproles, and San Diego’s run offense would surely improve in 2010.

Ryan Mathews, Fresno State

How: Draft

The skinny: Mathews had a productive season and is one to keep an eye on. He will surely be in San Diego’s mix along with Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon and USC’s Joe McKnight.

Willie Parker, Pittsburgh

How: Free agency

The skinny: He shouldn’t be high on the list. Parker is on the decline, but there aren’t many high-quality running backs on the market yet. He could be a backup plan.

C.J. Spiller, Clemson

How: Draft

The skinny: He is expected to be the class of the rookie crop. If he does what is expected of him in the next two months, Spiller could be a top-15 pick, which would be difficult for San Diego to get to. If for some reason he fell into the 20s, expect the Chargers to make a draft-day run at this potential difference-maker.

Taylor

Taylor

Chester Taylor, Minnesota

How: Free agency

The skinny: Taylor is 30, but he has fairly low mileage. The most carries he's had in a season was in 2006 when he had 303 and ran for 1,216 yards. He hasn't had more than 160 carries in any of his other seven seasons. It's unclear how he would do if given the opportunity to carry the ball 20-25 times a game.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans

How: Free agency

The skinny: The restricted free agent would be intriguing if he hit the open market. Thomas may not be the answer as the primary back, but he’d help as a rotational back.

LenDale White, Tennessee

How: Trade

The skinny: If the Titans were to let go of White at a decent price, San Diego might be tempted. He's big and strong and he can get the job done if not too much is asked of him. Add him to a backfield that included a rookie and Sproles and San Diego would be able to get by nicely.

Evening AFC West news and notes

November, 16, 2009
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The Oakland Tribune has a transcript of Tom Cable’s press briefing Monday. Cable explains why he is waiting to Wednesday to announce whether JaMarcus Russell will remain the starting quarterback.
  • There are rumors connecting the Chiefs and New Orleans running back Reggie Bush should he become available in 2010. The Chiefs will likely look for running back in the offseason. Because Jamaal Charles is a speedster, I’d expect the Chiefs to look for a bigger back.
  • It looks like San Diego right tackle Jeromey Clary has made progress from an ankle injury that caused his to leave Sunday’s win over the Eagles. Clary is on pace to play Sunday at Denver.
  • Chargers coach Norv Turner told reporters Monday he was aware prior to the game that LaTorsha Tomlinson, the wife of Chargers star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, left a gift-wrapped positive pregnancy test in the locker of his husband for him to open. Tomlinson was in tears after the game when he told media members of his gift. It will be the Tomlinson’s first child. The couple suffered a miscarriage four years ago.
 
  AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
  Darren McFadden is looking to become a consistent producer in 2009.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The good news for Darren McFadden was that it didn't take him long to prove he could make an impact in the NFL.

In Week 2 last season, McFadden exploded for 164 yards on 21 carries, leading the Raiders to a win at Kansas City. McFadden had a 50-yard run and quickly displayed why Oakland took him with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. It was a great start to his career.

The bad news: That performance was the last impactful game of his rookie season. He never ran for more than 46 yards or had more than 14 carries in a game the rest of the season. Because of nasty turf toe injuries, the former Arkansas game-breaker was unable to live up to expectations. He missed three games because of the injuries and had only 113 carries and 29 receptions.

"Last year wasn't what I expected," McFadden said recently at Oakland's training camp. "It was frustrating, but I know I can do it ... I think about that Kansas City game, because it showed what I can do. But it was just one game. I have to put it all together."

 
  Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
  Darren McFadden flashed his potential by gaining 164 yards on  the Chiefs in Week 2 last season.

There is little doubt in Oakland that McFadden can put it all together as a second-year player. Health is the key and now McFadden is completely recovered from his injuries. He looked crisp and explosive in the training camp practices I saw. His speed is off the charts.

McFadden's true value is his versatility, and it's the primary reason why Oakland bypassed other pressing needs in 2008's draft. In addition to being a gifted runner, he is dangerous as a receiver and he can return kicks if needed. And don't be surprised if McFadden, who was a Wildcat star in college, is used in the formation more in his second year than the Raiders did last year.

Watch for McFadden to line up wide as a receiver in several formations. This can confuse opposing defenses, and with an unproven receiving crew, McFadden can help give life to the passing game.

It is clear that Raiders coach Tom Cable is counting the days to unleash the many faces of Darren McFadden.

"It's better for everyone," Cable said of McFadden's ability to play receiver. "It's a real key for us."

I simply get the feeling that the McFadden we all expected to see will show himself in his second season. If Oakland's offense makes significant strides, it will be because of a strong reliance on McFadden.

There are, of course, limitations. McFadden will make an impact but he is probably more Reggie Bush than Adrian Peterson. He would have a difficult time being a workhorse because of he isn't the biggest back in the league and he has a history of injuries. McFadden will be much more effective carrying the ball 15 to 18 times a game rather than 25 to 30.

That is a realistic proposition. Oakland is as deep as any team in the NFL at tailback. The Raiders also posses intriguing power back Michael Bush and yardage-eater Justin Fargas. The Raiders want McFadden to be the first option, but he'll have help.

McFadden believes the three-headed monster will work in Oakland after some rough spots last season.

"I love that we have three guys," McFadden said. "We can really throw different things at defenses. Plus, every running back in the NFL is going to get banged up. Having three guys will keep us fresh ... We can be really dangerous."

McFadden can be the most dangerous of all three. His performance thus far in training camp shows there could be many days ahead that will make people remember Week 2 of the 2008 season.

"That game gave me a good taste," McFadden said. "I can't wait to show people that I can do that on a regular basis. That's what I'm looking to do in 2009."

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