AFC West: Ronald Bartell

Here are some highlights from our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:


Michael Murphy from Thornton, Colo.: Why does everybody think Denver is going to take a Cornerback? They are 5 deep. Bailey, DRC, Harris, Bolden, and Carter. All but Bailey are under the age of 26 I believe.

Bill Williamson: [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] is on a one-year deal. If Denver sees a CB it loves, it could very well take him.

Kansas City

Mike from Temecula, Calif.: Bill, don’t you feel the chiefs should go ahead and sign Albert long term and draft Defense.sounds like just swapping left tackles is a waste when they could add Jorden or Star L. to an already good defense.

BW: Yes, I think [that] would be a strong option. I'd really think about taking Star Lotulelei with the top pick.


Joseph Hill from St. George, Utah: Bill, how do you think Jenkins/Porter duo will compare to Bartell/Spencer from last year? Better or worse?

BW: Better. Much better. This combo isn't great. But those guys last year were cooked.

San Diego

Ben K. from Santa Barbara, Calif.: If the top three tackles are gone, do you think there are teams that would be willing to trade up for the chargers pick at 11? They just have so many holes to fill and in a deep draft class like this any extra picks could be a huge help.

BW: Yeah, No. 11 is a good trade spot. The board starts to take shape and some players start to fall. I think the Chargers may be able to trade down if they want.

Chargers rotate roster

December, 18, 2012
What do teams do when they are eliminated from playoff contention early? They look at the kids.

That’s what the 5-9 Chargers are doing.

The Chargers put running back Ryan Mathews (collarbone), receiver Malcom Floyd (ankle), and tackle Reggie Wells (ankle/toe) on the injured reserve. Receiver Mike Willie and defensive end Damik Scafe were promoted from the practice squad. There is still an opening on the 53-man roster.

These moves are not shocking especially the decision to shelve Mathews, who had surgery Monday.

In other AFC West news:

Bloggers: Manning over Brady as MVP

December, 12, 2012
In this week’s MVP Watch, Mike Sando polled the other NFL bloggers to help decide the intriguing MVP battle between longtime rivals Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Even though Brady is coming off a dominant performance against Houston, Manning won the blogger vote 5-3. I was among those who voted for Manning.

I’ve seen him play many times this season and his play was been spectacular. Yes, Brady has been terrific, too.

But I just think Manning’s comeback, his impact on the team and overall performance gives him the edge at this point of the season. Four months ago, we all had a feeling New England would be a Super Bowl contender. Could we say the same thing about Manning and the Broncos with him coming off of a major neck surgery and with no previous chemistry with his new teammates?

No, and that’s why he gets my vote.

In other AFC West news:

The Chargers’ slim playoff hopes can die Sunday even if they beat the Panthers. That’s what happens when you are 5-8. Your destiny is not in your control.

The Chargers have signed former New England linebacker Gary Guyton.

Cornerback Ronald Bartell has cleared waivers and he is free to sign elsewhere. Oakland cut him Monday. I don’t think he’d be a priority for any of the other three teams in the division. I do think a playoff contender with a need for cornerback depth, such as the New York Giants, Houston or Seattle, could potentially take a look at Bartell.

The Chargers are getting creative in an attempt to avoid another blackout.

Likely speaking for kick returners everywhere, Kansas City return man Javier Arenas slammed the idea of the NFL eliminating kickoffs from the game.

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said veteran offensive linemen Ryan Lilja, Branden Albert and Russ Hochstein will all not practice Wednesday because of back injuries. Crennel said the team has not determined whether standout receiver Dwayne Bowe will be put on injured reserve. He is definitely out for Sunday’s game with what Crennel described as “sore” ribs.

Crennel said receiver Steve Breaston needs to understand the game plan better before he gets on the playing field. He has missed several games and he has seven catches this season. Once considered one of the better slot receivers in the game, Breaston has not fit in with first-year offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s system. If the current regime is back next year, I highly doubt Breaston will be.

The Chiefs added offensive lineman Dustin Waldron to the practice squad.

Source: Raiders moving on from Bartell

December, 10, 2012
With the season all but lost, the Oakland Raiders are shedding disappointing players.

According to an NFL source close to the situation, starting cornerback Ronald Bartell has been told by the Raiders he will be released Monday. Bartell signed a one-year deal with Oakland with hopes he would return to his form prior to a neck injury that kept him out of 15 games with St. Louis last season.

He suffered a shoulder injury in Week 1 and he was put on injured reserve with the designation to return. He came back last month. Bartell started all six of the games he has played in this season, including a loss to Denver on Thursday night. Bartell was benched during a Week 13 loss to Cleveland.

Cornerback is one of the Raiders’ thinnest areas, so it is somewhat surprising the team is planning to get rid of Bartell with three games to go. Phillip Adams’ playing time has increased in recent weeks.

When released, Bartell, 30, will be subject to waivers. If not claimed, he will be a free agent. I could see a playoff contender looking for cornerback depth showing some interest in Bartell. Cornerback help is always a premium.

Report: Raiders to cut Pat Lee

November, 10, 2012
Starters rarely get cut in the NFL during the season.

It appears is going to happen twice in five days in the AFC West. At the same position.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the Raiders will cut cornerback Pat Lee on Saturday. The move would be made to make room for Ron Bartell, who is about to be activated from the injured reserve.

Monday, Kansas City cut starting cornerback Stanford Routt. The Lee move, while surprising, it isn’t as stunning as the Routt cut. Routt was a big-money player.

Lee was a starter because of injuries. He was a decent starter for the Raiders. Lee was brought to Oakland from Green Bay by former Packers’ executive and first-year general manager Reggie McKenzie.

The Raiders are thin at cornerback. So the move to cut a player who started the past seven games is a bit strange. You’d think he’d be valuable as a reserve and as injury insurance. According to this report, it appears the Raiders think otherwise.

Tracy Porter still not practicing

November, 7, 2012
Tracy Porter is still having problems. The Denver cornerback remained out of practice Wednesday.

He is adjusting to medication he is taking after he suffered a seizure in August. He has missed three straight games. He has been replaced by Chris Harris, who has been excellent.

As expected, guard Chris Kuper did not practice after suffering a severe ankle sprain Sunday. He could be out a while. Receiver Eric Decker was limited by a thigh injury Wednesday. He will be monitored throughout the week.

In other AFC West news:

U-T San Diego reports former Kansas City cornerback Stanford Routt has drawn interest from three teams, but not the Chargers at this time. He was cut Monday.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen said he will determine on Friday whether Darren McFadden and backup running back Mike Goodson can play at Baltimore on Sunday. Both players didn’t practice Wednesday because of high ankle sprains. At this point, it seems like a long shot they will play. Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones will be the running backs if they can’t play.

Oakland cornerback Ronald Bartell is hopeful of playing Sunday. He has been out since Week 1 with a shoulder injury. Oakland tight end Brandon Myers was limited with a shoulder injury.

San Diego receivers Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem practiced Wednesday. Both players missed last week’s game with hamstring injuries.

Chat wrap: Big game for Chargers

October, 25, 2012
Here are some highlights from our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday:


Derek from Georgia: Bill, Do you think that Trindon Holliday can have an impact for the Broncos in the return game this year. I know that he had a costly fumble on a punt last week but he's got potential. Why isn't he returning kicks also because (Omar) Bolden has been horrible?

Bill Williamson: The fact that Denver didn't cut him right after the SD game means the Broncos like him and they want to give Holliday a chance. Why not? There are no other answers.


The Prince from KCMO: What's up BW, I was wondering what you think it would take from a winning standpoint for Romeo Crennel to keep his job in Kansas City after this season?

BW: I think it's simple: If Scott Pioli is kept, so will Crennel. If there is a new GM, there will be a new coach. If I had to guess right now, I'd say they are both coming back.


Tarek from NYC: Do you think the Raiders will leave (Michael) Huff at corner after this season? Or is this still just a temporary fill in situation?

BW: Good question. I think when (Ron) Bartell and (Shawntae) Spencer come back, Huff may go back to safety, but perhaps Huff could be switched back to CB next year with the help of a full offseason at the spot.


Jeremy from Georgetown KY.: What do you think the Chargers record will be this year?

BW: I think it depends on what happens Sunday at Cleveland. If the Chargers win and get that terrible taste of the two blown losses out, they have a shot to roll a bit because their schedule eases. But if they lose, they could go in the tank.
Midweek mail call:

Jose G. III from Anaheim, Calif., wants to know if I think new Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is relying too heavily on his Green Bay connections when it comes to signing players.

Bill Williamson: McKenzie has signed three players recently who he worked with in Green Bay. That’s pretty typical. Executives from across the NFL often bring players with them to new jobs, whether they are high-profile players such as when Scott Pioli brought Matt Cassel to Kansas City from New England three years ago or bottom-of-the-roster players that McKenzie has brought to Oakland. I don’t see anything wrong with it. These are all developmental players McKenzie has a good feeling about. They are not taking roster spots from anyone pivotal and I think it could pay off down the road.

Gerardo Gonzalez Jr. from Weslaco, Texas, wants to know if Wesley Woodyard's play could prompt the Denver Broncos to move D.J. Williams to middle linebacker when he returns from his suspension.

BW: Williams has played middle linebacker before and he can do it again. But I think he will be brought back in the rotation when his suspension ends. He has two games remaining from a six-game NFL suspension for using a banned substance. But he could face up to another three games for a driving and alcohol charge. Honestly, I think the Broncos are moving on from Williams and if he gives them anything when he comes back they will take it.

Fabio Contu from Italy wants to know what position I think the Raiders will look for in the first round of the 2013 draft.

BW: I think Oakland has to look at cornerback. Starters Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are not signed beyond this season and there isn’t really much behind them. Players such as Dee Milliner (Alabama), Johnthan Banks (Mississippi State) and David Amerson (North Carolina State) should be on Oakland’s radar.

Report: Huff starts at cornerback

September, 23, 2012
During the week, Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Michael Huff could play some cornerback Sunday against Pittsburgh.

Apparently, Huff is going to play a lot of cornerback against the Steelers. The Contra Costa Times reported that Huff will start opposite Pat Lee on Sunday at cornerback. Matt Giordano wall take Huff’s spot at safety.

The Raiders are riddled by injury and overall depth problems at cornerback. Starters Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are out.

The Huff move makes sense. He played cornerback at Texas and he practiced there this week. It allows Joselio Hanson to stay at nickelback, where he is more comfortable. Giordano is experienced at safety, so this decision strengthens the Raiders’ secondary in an emergency situation.

Is Michael Huff now a cornerback?

September, 19, 2012
It looks like Michael Huff, at least for now, may be moving positions.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting Huff is taking repetitions in practice Wednesday at cornerback. Perhaps he is just getting comfortable there in case of an emergency. Or perhaps the Raiders believe they are already in an emergency state and are moving Huff from safety to cornerback for the time being.

Monday, we looked at that possibility. I think that what’s Oakland needs to do with Huff. Starters Ronald Bartell (shoulder) and Shawntae Spencer (foot) are out and the Raiders have more depth at safety than cornerback. Huff played cornerback in college and I think having him there for now is the right move.

UPDATE: Oakland coach Dennis Allen told reporters why he thinks Michael Huff could be a good cornerback. Inside the Bay Area reports Joselio Hanson and Pat Lee are Oakland’s starting cornerback going into the Pittsburgh game, but Huff could be in the mix.

To help their depth at cornerback, the Raiders signed a player Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie is familiar with: Brandian Ross from the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad. He was on the Packers’ practice squad last year when McKenzie was still in Green Bay.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that former Oakland cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke has been “an awesome surprise” to the Steelers. His biggest impact has come on special teams. He was cut by Oakland earlier this month.

Also, Oakland added cornerback Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga, who was earlier with the team, to the practice squad.

In other AFC West news:

Two strong outings have propelled San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers to No. 4 on Mike Sando’s MVP Watch.

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said tight end Kevin Boss will likely be out of practice for the next few days as he recovers from a concussion. He must pass a test before being able to play Sunday at New Orleans.

Raiders are strapped at CB

September, 17, 2012
The previous Oakland Raiders’ regime reportedly had planned to move Michael Huff from safety to cornerback.

The new Oakland regime may be forced to make the move.

One of Oakland’s thinnest position got even thinner Sunday when starter Shawntae Spencer suffered a foot injury. Monday, Oakland coach Dennis Allen said it is significant.

In the opener, fellow starter Ronald Bartell went on the injured reserve with a broken shoulder blade. He can come back in about six weeks. Pat Lee is starting for Bartell. Joselio Hanson, the team’s nickel corner, could move up to start for Spencer.

Yet, I think the Raiders should consider moving Huff to cornerback. He was a cornerback at Texas. The Raiders have more dopth at safety than cornerback. I think a combination of Huff and Lee and Hanson as the top three cornerbacks is better than anything else the Raiders can do right now.

Either way, Oakland, which is 0-2 for the first time in five years, is in a challenging spot. The Raiders face Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan in their next three games.

There is very little available talent on the street, Chris Carr could be considered, but he wouldn’t make a huge impact.

It will likely sting the Raiders to see 2011 third-round pick DeMarcus Van Dyke wearing a Pittsburgh uniform in Oakland on Sunday. The Steelers signed him after the Raiders gave up on him early this month. Van Dyke is far from a finished product, but you’d think the Raiders would like to have him right now.

In addition to Spencer, Allen said right tackle Khalif Barnes suffered a significant groin injury. Willie Smith, claimed off waivers earlier this month, will start at right tackle.

Ryan Mathews set to return

September, 17, 2012
Barring a setback, it looks like Ryan Mathews’ wait is over.

U-T San Diego is reporting the Chargers running back will practice Wednesday and is expected to play Sunday against Atlanta. That has been the expectation for the past several days. Mathews was cleared for contact last Thursday. So, he will practice with contact for more than a week before hitting the field. Mathews broke his clavicle on his first preseason carry.

Mathews’ return will give the Chargers a big boost. They are 2-0, but his return will only improve this offense that scored 38 points in a lopsided win over the Titans on Sunday.

In other AFC West news:

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said running back Jamaal Charles’ surgically repaired knee is fine. He was taken out of a 35-17 loss at Buffalo on Sunday after he was banged up after taking a hit on the knee.

CBS Sportsline reported the Chargers will work out veteran cornerback Chris Carr this week. The Chargers are thin at cornerback. Carr recently worked out for the Chiefs and I could see the Raiders showing interest, because starter Shawntae Spencer is hurting with a foot injury and the team’s other starting cornerback, Ronald Bartell, is out for another six weeks. The Raiders are paper thin at cornerback.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Denver pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil is planning to file a lawsuit in Miami over a false arrest this summer. He was arrested in July in a road rage incident, but charges were never filed.

Raiders make several moves official

September, 15, 2012
I arrived in San Diego on Saturday to some predictable news from the Oakland Raiders.

Even though it was expected, the news that No. 3 receiver and kick returner Jacoby Ford is out for the year stings for the Raiders. Ford, who missed six of the final seven games of last season with a foot injury, suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot in the preseason. He had surgery this week.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen told reporters this week he likes his five receivers. Yet, Oakland will miss Ford’s explosion. In other expected moves, Oakland put cornerback Ronald Bartell on the injured reserve, but he was given the designation that he can come back later this season. He is expected back in six weeks. He broke his left shoulder blade against the Chargers.

Oakland signed long snapper Nick Guess and cornerback Coye Francies. Guess was signed to long snap if Condo is not cleared to play. He suffered a concussion against the Chargers.

It will be interesting to see how Guess does. He is inexperienced in the NFL but at least he is a long snapper. Reserve linebacker Travis Goethel, who was pressed into duty, had three bad snaps that directly resulted in nine points for the Chargers in their 22-14 victory over the Raiders.

In other AFC West news:

The Chargers promoted cornerback Greg Gatson from the practice squad because they are banged up at the position. Veteran offensive lineman Reggie Wells was cut to make room for Gatson. Wells was recently signed and could always be brought back when the Chargers get healthy at cornerback.

Denver has listed nickel cornerback Chris Harris as questionable to play Monday night at Atlanta with an ankle injury. He did not practice all week.
In addition to a potential season-ending injury suffered by receiver Jacoby Ford, the Raiders are dealing with playing without starting cornerback Ronald Bartell.

Bartell has a broken left shoulder blade. Because no surgery is needed, his recovery time could be less than six weeks. There is hope he could be back in four weeks. Bartell is meeting with a specialist to get more information.

Bartell was injured in the first half Monday. Pat Lee took Bartell’s place and he is line to start.

The Raiders had high hopes for Bartell when they signed him to a one-year contract this offseason. He had success in his career with the Rams, but he missed last season with a neck injury. This injury further hurts one of Oakland’s thinnest areas for the time being.

In other AFC West news:

The Chargers added offensive line depth by signing veteran Reggie Wells. He adds depth at guard and tackle. Wells is a solid player and a good addition for the Chargers.

Raiders send strong message at CB

September, 3, 2012
The Oakland Raiders’ change at cornerback was a strong message from their new brass: No one is on scholarship and none of Al Davis’ decisions will be given special consideration moving forward.

The Raiders drastically changed the look of the cornerback position when they signed veteran Joselio Hanson. The 31-year-old was cut by the Eagles on Friday. To make room for Hanson, the Raiders surprisingly cut second-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke. He was a third-round pick in 2011.

Van Dyke was a classic Davis draft pick. He was the fastest runner at the combine in 2011 and the Raiders used a high pick on him because of his speed despite the fact that he wasn’t overly productive in college. Van Dyke struggled last year. He came back and had a nice training camp this season, but he wasn’t overly impressive in preseason games.

Still, because of the team’s investment in him, his youth and speed, he wasn’t considered to be in danger of being cut. No one expected Oakland to keep newly signed Coye Francies over a third-round pick like Van Dyke. This decision has to show the rest of the roster that few players are safe.

The Van Dyke cut comes on the heels of the team cutting 2011 fourth-round pick Chimdi Chekwa. He was put on the practice squad.

Both Van Dyke and Chekwa were expected to push free-agent signing Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer. Yet, the youngsters couldn’t push either player.

Hanson is a fairly respected nickel cornerback and he will give Oakland solid experience. Still, the Raiders are still in flux at the position for the long run. Bartell, Spencer and Hanson are not high-level players. They are all over 30 and all are signed to one-year deals.

So, while Oakland’s cornerback position -- which was very solid in 2010 with Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt as the starters -- is drastically different for the short term and it will likely look much different next year. It’s early, but you’d have to think a cornerback will be very high on Oakland’s draft wish list next year. The picks of Van Dyke and Chekwa were designed to fill the cornerback needs for years to come.

Meanwhile, in addition to Chekwa, the Raiders filled out their practice squad with defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga, center Colin Miller and running back Jeremy Stewart to the practice squad.