AFC West: Rudy Niswanger

AFC West notes

August, 10, 2011
Let’s catch up on his AFC West notes after traveling from the Chargers’ training camp:

The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill had bone spurs removed from his knee. It is his second minor knee surgery this year, McNeill is supposed to miss two weeks. He should be ready for the start of the regular season.

The Broncos have some concern over Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd’s knee and the team will be cautious about it moving forward. Meanwhile, the Denver Post reports Tim Tebow will be the second quarterback in and Brady Quinn will play with the third stringers Thursday at Dallas.

Denver veteran leader Brian Dawkins made a substantial financial sacrifice to remain with the team. In a radio interview, Dawkins talks about why he wanted to stay in Denver.

Former Kansas City center Rudy Niswanger signed with Detroit. The Chiefs did not pursue him. Newly signed Oakland offensive lineman Justin Smiley has retired. He didn’t have a strong chance to make the team.

AFC West union reps

March, 3, 2011
Some players in the AFC West are working hard. They aren’t on the field, but their current work is designed to get everybody back on the field. Let’s take a look at the AFC West union representatives:

Denver Broncos

Rep: Safety Brian Dawkins

Co-alternates: Guard Russ Hochstein and quarterback Kyle Orton

My thoughts: Dawkins has long been involved in the union. He is one of the most connected players in the NFL with the union. The Broncos will be well informed during this time of uncertainty.

Kansas City Chiefs

Rep: Center Rudy Niswanger

Co-alternates: Safety Jon McGraw and linebacker Andy Studebaker.

My thoughts: There isn’t much star power in this group. But all three representatives are well respected in the locker room.

Oakland Raiders

Rep: Tight end Zach Miller

Co-alternates: Linebacker Ricky Brown and quarterback Bruce Gradkowski

My thoughts: Miller is personally invested in this fight. He needs to know whether he’ll be an unrestricted or a restricted free agent when this dispute is settled.

San Diego Chargers

Rep: Center Nick Hardwick

Co-alternates: Defensive lineman Jacques Cesaire and tackle Jeromey Clary.

My thoughts: Hardwick has long been in involved in players’ rights. He’ll keep his teammates well informed.
KANSAS CITY –- There was only one mild surprise on the Kansas City Chiefs’ inactive list Sunday for their AFC wild-card game against visiting Baltimore.

Veteran receiver Chris Chambers was inactive, while newly signed veteran receiver Kevin Curtis is active. Chambers has been disappointing this season and he might have played his final game in Kansas City. Curtis was signed Wednesday.

Also, Brodie Croyle is back to being the Chiefs’ backup quarterback while Tyler Palko is the emergency quarterback. Palko was the backup last week against Oakland. Here are Kansas City’s other inactives: receiver Quinten Lawrence, fullback Mike Cox, safety Reshard Langford, linebacker Charlie Anderson, center Rudy Niswanger and defensive tackle Anthony Toribio. Baltimore had no surprises on its inactive list.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A goal of Todd Haley’s second training camp as the Kansas City Chiefs coach is to make daily strides.

Every day, Haley looks for progress. Wednesday, in the morning of a double session, Haley believes his team “got a little better.”

The team ended the two-and-a-half hour session with a spirited goal-line drill. Both sides of the ball had their moments. Haley wasn’t sure how the drill was going to transpire after a sluggish start to the final day of double days here.

“It was good to see that after a less-than-perfect practice,” Haley said. “It was a glass-half full day … last year we finished practices how we started … That was good to see.”

Haley is going to be a successful NFL coach. He's detailed oriented and deep in his coaching thoughts. He knows this is a journey and he recognizes key signs, no matter how trivial they may appear.

Haley let his players know they were slacking off early in the morning session. He fired off several verbal jabs in an attempt to get their attention. Apparently, it worked.

The Chiefs break camp Thursday. However, they will resume training camp back in Kansas City next week with two two-a-day sessions planned.
  • Undrafted rookie receiver Jeremy Horne has been impressive. He continued to make some nice grabs. The Massachusetts product still has a lot of work to do to make the 53-man roster
  • Quarterback Matt Cassel knows how much he plays in Kansas City’s second preseason game, at Tampa Bay on Saturday, is not his decision. Still, when asked how much he wants to play, he made it clear he is looking for a lot of work. “The more the merrier,” he said.
  • Haley noted the battle at center going on between Rudy Niswanger and Casey Wiegmann, who has returned to Kansas City after playing in Denver the past two seasons. Haley called a Wiegmann a “football-playing dude.”
  • Could linebacker Derrick Johnson be headed to Detroit? Not sure, but Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has coached Johnson, so the linebacker-hungry Lions could potentially make a push for Johnson.

Talking points with Todd Haley

August, 17, 2010
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- I wanted to get some quick thoughts from Kansas City coach Todd Haley’s presser. No Kansas City players were available prior to practice.

Haley was evasive when it came to how long backup quarterback Brodie Croyle would be out with an arm injury. The team has signed quarterback Bill Stull to help carry the load in practice and potentially in Saturday’s preseason game at Tampa Bay.

''Whether [Croyle’s injury] is a month long, one week, two day, one day, we had to get an arm in here,” Haley said.

Haley was asked if he ever considered not having a physical training camp.

“It’s all I know,” Haley said. He said other coaching philosophies are fine, and perhaps one day he could change his stance, but staying physical is what he’s most comfortable with.

In other news:
  • Center Rudy Niswanger played some guard in camp Tuesday and Haley said Niswanger’s versatility could allow him to do that during the season.
  • Haley praised the play of linebacker Mike Vrabel, who turned 35 Saturday.
  • Haley stated the importance of special teams. He said he told his team that some players will make the 53-man roster and play on game day based on their special-teams performances in camp and in the preseason.
  • Former Kansas City great Tony Gonzalez said there is a 50 percent chance this is his final NFL season. Gonzalez was traded to Atlanta prior to last season.
  • It’s a cloudy and fairly cool day here. The Chiefs are enjoying this weather after dealing with extreme heat and humidity for much of camp.

I hope to have more after practice.
On the final day that teams can sign restricted free agents to offer sheets, the Kansas City Chiefs had three of their restricted free agents sign tenders.

Backup quarterback Brodie Croyle, center Rudy Niswanger and backup tackle Ryan O'Callaghan are all now under contract with the Chiefs for the 2010 season. They can all be unrestricted free agents in 2011.

The Chiefs’ brass really likes Croyle and thinks he can be a solid backup. Niswanger will compete with newly signed veteran Casey Wiegmann.

Chiefs bring back Wiegmann

March, 12, 2010
The Chiefs continued to be aggressive in free agency by signing center Casey Wiegmann.

He was cut by Denver recently because the Broncos are trying to get bigger on the offensive line. This will be Wiegmann’s second tour in Kansas City. He spent seven of his 14 NFL seasons with the team from 2001-07.

Wiegmann, 37, will likely compete with incumbent Rudy Niswanger for the starting job. Niswanger is a restricted free agent. Wiegmann is not the backup type, though.

As the Chiefs pointed in the release announcing his signing, Wiegmann has started 143 straight games and he has taken 9,078 consecutive snaps. So, it’s clear Wiegmann has a chance to be the starter in Kansas City.

This one-year deal is a solid signing for the Chiefs. They needed to upgrade on the offensive line and Wiegmann provides tough, veteran leadership. This is another sign that the Chiefs are making solid strides this offseason. The team signed veteran running back Thomas Jones earlier this week.
The Chiefs announced they have signed linebacker Mike Vrabel to a contract extension. Terms were not announced.

Vrabel, 34, was set to become an unrestricted free agent Friday.

The Chiefs signed Vrabel, who was acquired in a trade from New England last year, for his leadership ability. Kansas City is very young and Vrabel was good with the team’s young players last year.

He will also likely play extensively in 2010. He started 14 games and had 65 tackles for the Chiefs last year. Vrabel isn’t long for the league, but this is a good move for the Chiefs because of his leadership.

He played for new Kansas City defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel in New England. Vrabel will be able to help the other players on Kansas City’s defense adjust to Crennel’s schemes and approach.

Meanwhile, Kansas City gave the first-round tender to restricted free agent Derrick Johnson. That means the linebacker will likely stay with the team.

Johnson was in the team’s doghouse for much of last season, but he played his way out of it toward the end of the season. He had two interception returns for touchdowns in Kansas City’s upset win at Denver in the season finale. Kansas City also tendered safety Jarrad Page and center Rudy Niswanger.

AFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 3, 2010

Potential unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd

Potential restricted free agents: LB Elvis Dumervil, OL Chris Kuper, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Kyle Orton, TE Tony Scheffler, DT Le Kevin Smith

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Broncos’ restricted class is talented. That will be the focus. It has been reported that Marshall, Orton, Dumervil, Scheffler and Kuper will all get one-year tenders. Marshall very well could be traded. It wouldn’t be a shock if Dumervil gets some action on the restricted market. Miami could be interested.

Kansas City

Potential unrestricted free agents: OL Andy Alleman, S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade

Potential restricted free agents: RB Jackie Battle, QB Brodie Croyle, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Corey Mays, OL Ikechuku Ndukwe, OL Rudy Niswanger, OL Ryan O'Callaghan, S Jarrad Page

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Chiefs are interested in keeping some of their unrestricted free agents. General manager Scott Pioli said at the combine the team has been in contact with several of their free agents. Chambers is the focus. The team is trying to keep him. Brown and Vrabel could also return with new deals.


Potential unrestricted free agents: S Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Potential restricted free agents: LB Jon Alston, OL Khalif Barnes, LB Ricky Brown, LB Jon Condo, QB Charlie Frye, QB Bruce Gradkowski, LB Thomas Howard, RB Luke Lawton, OL Chris Morris, LB Kirk Morrison, CB Stanford Routt, RB Gary Russell

Franchise player: DE Richard Seymour.

What to expect: The Raiders franchised Seymour and signed kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a record deal, so they’ve already been busy. It will be interesting to see how they tender Howard and Morrison. The Raiders could use some new life at linebacker and this could be the start of it.

San Diego

Potential unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Potential restricted free agents: OL Jeromey Clary, LB Tim Dobbins, WR Malcom Floyd, DT Antonio Garay, OL Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Marques Harris, WR Vincent Jackson, DT Travis Johnson, OL Marcus McNeill, LB Shawne Merriman, RB Darren Sproles, QB Charlie Whitehurst

Franchise player: None

What to expect: The Chargers have their hands full. It’s been reported they will give high tenders to Jackson, Merriman, McNeill and Floyd. Jackson and McNeill could still attract some interest on the restricted market. Sproles is not expected to be tendered, making him a free agent. The Chargers want him back. But if Sproles hits the open market, the multifaceted weapon could be scooped up quickly.

Evening AFC West news and notes

November, 4, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

• San Diego center Nick Hardwick worked with the first team some Wednesday. He had been out since Week 1 and he was supposed to be out until December. San Diego coach Norv Turner, talking to reporters Wednesday, made it seem like Hardwick is a long shot to play at New York on Sunday. Perhaps Hardwick will have a better chance of playing Nov. 15 at home against Philadelphia.

“He took a couple snaps with our offensive group. He did mostly the opponent stuff,” Turner said. “You get into this situation where they’re starting to get close. There’s a possibility, but we’ll see where he’s at tomorrow in terms of if he has any setbacks. I think it would be hard for him to play this week but he might be able to be there in an emergency situation and be available.”

• Linebacker Kevin Burnett (ankle) and Tim Dobbins (knee) did not practice Wednesday. Dobbins was hurt while replacing Burnett. The team hopes Burnett, who missed the past two games, could start Sunday.

• Oakland coach Tom Cable talked to owner Al Davis about physical abuse allegations made against him. Cable expects to remain the team’s coach. The fact that Cable was with the team Wednesday is a good sign for him as the team heads to the bye.

• Center Samson Satele will remain Oakland’s center when the unit is back at full strength after the bye. Satele was acquired from Miami to be the starter but he initially didn’t take control of the position.

• Chiefs coach Todd Haley discusses new receiver Chris Chambers. Center Rudy Niswanger was limited in practice with a knee injury.

Early AFC West notes: LT's struggles

October, 28, 2009
Posted by’s Bill Williamson

LaDainian Tomlinson is struggling and people are noticing.

Look at this column and this column.

The doubts are warranted. Tomlinson has been slipping for more than a year now and it appears he may never be a superstar again. Sunday at Kansas City, we saw the old LT as he busted off a 36-yard run. But then we saw the new LT as he struggled to gain 35 yards on 22 other carries. His line isn’t what it used to be and that is hurting him, too.

But Tomlinson, 30, is getting older and it's showing.

• Larry Johnsons’ father is not happy with his son’s remarks.

• Meanwhile it doesn’t appear that the knee injury suffered by Kansas City center Rudy Niswanger is as serious as it was initially thought to be. That’s good news for the Chiefs. The offensive line is already a mess. It can’t afford to lose Niswanger for an extended period of time.

• Looking for a silver (and black) lining, Raiders fans? The team’s penalties are way down. Hey, it’s a start.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

The Chiefs signed veteran free-agent center Eric Ghiaciuc on Thursday.

Ghiaciuc played his four NFL seasons with Cincinnati and started 42 games. He was a fourth-round draft choice out of Central Michigan in 2005.

Ghiaciuc will compete with incumbent Rudy Niswanger.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

A day after trading superstar tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Kansas City Chiefs signed veteran tight end Tony Curtis.

Curtis spent his first three seasons in Dallas. He has 11 career catches in 36 games. He was also a special-teams contributor. Curtis was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005 by Dallas and he was on the Cowboys' practice squad that season.

Kansas City coach Todd Haley was on Dallas' staff then. Earlier this week, Kansas City signed tight end Sean Ryan, who was also in Dallas with Haley.

Meanwhile, Kansas City center Rudy Niswanger signed his restricted free-agent tender.

AFC West news and notes

February, 26, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

• Still no word out of Kansas City on Larry Johnson's future. The team will likely try to trade him, but he could end up getting cut in the coming days.

• If Dallas cuts safety Roy Williams, Denver could be an option. The Broncos are looking at safeties in free agency. New England's James Sanders also is a possibility.

• The Broncos could be in on St. Louis cornerback Ronald Bartell in the coming days. If Dallas defensive end Chris Canty is unsigned after the first couple of days of free agency, Denver could get into the picture.

• The Chiefs extended tenders to restricted free agents safety Jarrad Page, center Rudy Niswanger and receiver Jeff Webb.

• The Broncos are set to gain about a $4 million in salary-cap credit for bonuses linebacker Louis Green didn't achieve. Denver has more than $40 million in salary-cap room as free agency is about to start.

• It will be interesting to see if San Diego shows any interest in guards Brandon Moore and Kendall Simmons, who were cut by the Jets and the Steelers, respectively. The Chargers might be in a market for a guard.

• The Broncos, at this point, are not looking for a replacement for young kicker Matt Prater, who struggled in the second half last season, but rather someone to compete with Prater.

Kansas City free agency primer

February, 24, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Kansas City Chiefs

Salary Cap situation: The Chiefs are swimming in salary cap room. They have in the neighborhood of $40 million in cap room and could clear some more with the release of some veteran players such as Patrick Surtain, Donnie Edwards, and Damon Huard in the coming days.

Needs: Defensive end, Linebacker, safety, quarterback, offensive line.

Possible targets: Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth; Dallas defensive end Chris Canty; Baltimore center Jason Brown.

Biggest possible departures: Center Rudy Niswanger (restricted); safety Jarrad Page (restricted).

How active will they be?: The Chiefs will be interesting to watch. They could pull the trigger on a big-ticket item or try to trade for New England quarterback Matt Cassel. At the very least, Kansas City will try to upgrade its defense with a few signings.