AFC West: Ricky Williams

San Diego running back Ryan Mathews will be one of the most interesting players in the NFL to watch develop in 2012.

The Chargers plan to unleash Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick of the 2010 draft. Mathews has been good so far in his young career. He had 1,091 yards rushing last season and he averaged 4.9 yards per carry. For his career, Mathews has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and he has 13 career touchdowns.

There’s no doubt his talent is immense. The Chargers believe he is ready to become a premier player. He is expected to be a workhorse this year and be involved in every phase of the offense, including being the team’s third-down back.

As U-T San Diego explained, Chargers coach Norv Turner has a history or using workhorse backs from Emmitt Smith to Ricky Williams to LaDainian Tomlinson.

“People who understand my history and look at it, I've had a large number of backs get a lot of carries, a dominant number of carries," Turner told the newspaper "I've had a few guys who've led the league or led the conference in rushing. I do believe, based on my experiences, Ryan is a guy who is capable of at some point doing that.”

Now, it’s Mathews’ turn. The question is, is he up to the task?

If there is a ding against Mathews it's that he gets banged up often. He has missed six games in two seasons. Getting the rock 25-30 times per game may be a challenge for a player who has 380 NFL carries. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. is a big believer in Mathews’ abilities, but he wonders if he can handle the load of being a true workhorse.

“In terms of what Mathews is capable of, I totally see it,” Williamson said. “I think he is a nearly elite total running back, in terms of his physical skill set and ability to help in all phases of the position. He’s a stud. But, what we don’t know and what I have huge questions about is his mind-set/toughness to be a true lead back. Few have that mental capacity to truly want the ball down after down and have the entire team lean on them when it matters most, like Emmitt Smith. And can Mathews play with pain? I have my doubts for sure. His talents suggest that he can be that guy and be one of the very best. What he has shown to this point from a toughness/mental standpoint. I have serious doubts. I hope he proves me wrong, and he might.”

AFC West notes

June, 4, 2012
6/04/12
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San Diego coach Norv Turner has continually expressed his faith in running back Ryan Mathews this offseason. Here is another example of Turner’s confidence in Mathews. Mathews told Sports Illustrated that Turner said the Chargers running back reminds him of former standout Ricky Williams. The Chargers expect Mathews to be a workhorse as he enters his third NFL season.

In a radio interview, former Kansas City player Eric Hicks said his wife can tell the difference in his personality in his post-NFL days.

In an Insider piece , Matt Williamson explains why he thinks Oakland’s Denarius Moore will be the best receiver in the AFC West in three years.

A candid Quentin Jammer told UT-San Diego that his divorce contributed to a subpar 2011 season and he is prepared to bounce back on the field.

UPDATE: The Kansas City Star reports Chiefs’ receiver Jonathan Baldwin as back at practice after he dealt with a migraine headache last week. Also, the paper reports Brady Quinn was back working with the second team. Ricky Stanzi was with the second unit last week. I think this rotation will not be figured out until late in the preseason. I think Quinn goes to camp as the favorite to be the backup.

AFC West notes

March, 30, 2012
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As expected, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports the Chargers have not talked to the retired Ricky Williams. He told a radio station this week he’d consider coming out of retirement for the chance to play for his hometown Chargers. He recently retired from the Ravens. Even if the Chargers wanted Williams, it wouldn’t be that easy. The Ravens still own his rights.

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay explains why he thinks the Chargers will look at an offensive lineman with the No. 18 pick.

The Chiefs are continuing to look at quarterbacks when they visit with Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler. They are looking at other top-rated quarterbacks as well.

Pittsburgh receiver Jerricho Cotchery will reportedly visit the Rams. He also has visited the Chiefs.
The San Diego Chargers could use a big, experienced backup running back.

Apparently, Ricky Williams would be willing to fill that role.

Williams
According to a tweet by Joe Madani, program director of Austin, Texas, radio station 103.1 FM, Williams said on the radio this week that he has filed his retirement papers, but he’d consider playing for his hometown Chargers.

Williams, who will turn 35 in May, retired from Baltimore after he ran for 444 yards on 108 carries in 2011. Should the Chargers be interested in pulling the cobwebs off of Williams?

I don’t think so.

Yes, he is big and he has plenty of experience, but I think the Chargers can find plenty of younger options. Counting on 35-year-old running backs is not a great way of doing business in the NFL. If Ryan Mathews, who has had some durability concerns, has to miss a month, would Williams really be the answer? He last started a game in 2009.

I just think the Chargers could do better. It would be a cool story to see Williams finish his storied career in San Diego, but I’d very much question if it makes good football sense for the Chargers.

Cap tip to the reader who alerted me of this tweet.

College coach raves about Decker

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
11:35
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Englewood, Co. -- I just got off the phone with University of Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster.

Brewster, who formerly coach tight ends for the Broncos, believes Denver got one of the steals of the draft when they took Gophers receiver Eric Decker at No. 87.

“He is the most complete college player I’ve ever been around,” Brewster said. “I was around Ricky Williams at Texas. But this kid is the full package. He does everything right. He blocks, he runs, he catches …. He’s the real deal.”

Brewster has coached in the NFL with Denver and San Diego. He said there is no doubt Decker will make the transition.

“I have no worries about that,“ Brewster said. “Josh McDaniels just did the Denver Broncos a very big favor.”

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Before tonight's game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, I presented some storylines to follow.

This is how they played out:

Miami Dolphins

Q: How does RB Ricky Williams respond to being the feature back for at least the first half? RB Ronnie Brown is out with an injured right thumb.

A: Williams was a mixed bag. He looked like his old self to begin the opening drive with a 21-yard gust and an 8-yard carry to the Chiefs' 4-yard line. Williams used to be money from that close, but he couldn't punch it in on four tries. On his last carry of the series, the Dolphins were on the 1-yard line, but Williams was forced out of bounds for a loss of four yards.

After the game, he seemed to take offense to my line of questioning on the subject.

"I'm the running back, and it's my job to try and get the ball in the end zone," Williams said. "You always want to score six points when you get down there, but I thought we did a good job of running the ball down there. We took 10 minutes of the clock and we put our defense in a good position. Ideally, we want to score, but we'll get it ironed out."

Take away his 21-yard run and Williams ran 11 times for 26 yards, a 2.4-yard average.

Q: Does QB Chad Pennington continue to show progress in learning the Dolphins' system?

A: You betcha. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has been coy about his plans for the starting quarterback job, suggesting rookie Chad Henne might have a shot at it.

But Pennington was sharp again. He played four series, with the Dolphins scoring 10 points. He completed 11 of 15 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 111.5.

Henne completed only two of his seven attempts for 14 yards and threw an interception for Miami's first turnover of the preseason.

Q: Does WR Ernest Wilford, who could be in jeopardy of not making the 53-man roster, make his presence felt?

A: Wilford did not. He played almost the entire second half and didn't have the ball thrown his direction, although the Dolphins attempted only nine passes in the second half.

Q: What will OLB Joey Porter look like? He's dealing with multiple injuries that have the Dolphins concerned.

A: Porter looked decent in his limited time. He started the game and sacked Brodie Croyle for a 7-yard loss on third down at the end of the first quarter.

Q: Can rookie K Dan Carpenter continue to acquit himself since the Dolphins cut proven veteran Jay Feely?

A: Carpenter made a 19-yard field goal in the first quarter, keeping him perfect on seven preseason attempts. He also made two extra points. His kickoffs went to the 12, 2, goal line, goal line, 1-yard into end zone, goal line.

Kansas City Chiefs

Q: Can Brodie Croyle continue to establish himself as a worthy starter? The Chiefs have scored only 13 points in Croyle's three quarters of preseason work so far.

A: Croyle had a miserable night, and he admitted as much. He was 12 of 21 for 110 yards and one interception. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble.

"It as a setback, obviously," Croyle said. "We wanted to go out and have a good showing, score points and win the game. We just kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the first half."

Damon Huard didn't do any better. He completed three of his seven passes for 26 yards and one interception. He was sacked twice. Tyler Thigpen also threw an interception on five attempts with no completions.

"It's pretty tough when you don't score any points and you turn the ball over like we did," Huard said.

Q: Which kicker will put his best foot forward? Nick Novak and Connor Barth are dueling for the job, and the Chiefs reportedly want to name their guy before the final preseason game.

A: Novak had the only attempt. His 48-yard try sailed wide right, but he was kicking from a weird spot where the dirt behind what would be second base meets the grass on the field where the Florida Marlins play.

"I thought Novak would have made that one," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "It would have been nice if he made that. So we're still evaluating."

Q: Will the reworked defensive line make any noise against a young Dolphins front that includes two rookies? DE Turk McBride is having an impressive preseason, and first-round pick DT Glenn Dorsey is under the microscope.

A: The Chiefs didn't record a sack. The stats will show the Dolphins ran 31 times for 164 yards, but that includes three kneel-downs at the end of the game and an 80-yard run by Jalen Parmele.

Dorsey had three tackles, including one for a loss.

Storylines from Chiefs-Dolphins

August, 23, 2008
8/23/08
7:54
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- We're a few minutes from kickoff under the South Florida gloaming. Here are a few storylines to follow during tonight's preseason game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins.

This is the third weekend, meaning both teams should use their first-teamers throughout the first half and maybe beyond.

Miami Dolphins

  • How does RB Ricky Williams respond to being the feature back for at least the first half? RB Ronnie Brown is out with a injured right thumb.
  • Does QB Chad Pennington continue to show progress in learning the Dolphins' system?
  • Does WR Ernest Wilford, who could be in jeopardy of not making the 53-man roster, make his presence felt?
  • What will OLB Joey Porter look like? He's dealing with multiple injuries that have the Dolphins concerned.
  • Can rookie K Dan Carpenter continue to acquit himself since the Dolphins cut proven veteran Jay Feely?

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Can Brodie Croyle continue to establish himself as a worthy starter? The Chiefs have scored only 13 points in Croyle's three quarters of preseason work so far.
  • Which K will put his best foot forward? Nick Novak and Connor Barth are dueling for the job, and the Chiefs reportedly want to name their guy before the final preseason game.
  • Will the reworked defensive line make any noise against a young Dolphins front that includes two rookies? DE Turk McBride is having an impressive preseason, and first-round pick DT Glenn Dorsey is under the microscope.

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