AFC West: SHaun Philips

Chargers' O-line issues mount

November, 23, 2011
The major injury issues for the San Diego Chargers along the offensive line are continuing. The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that key backup Scott Mruczkowski will be placed on the injured reserve after he suffered a concussion on Sunday at Chicago — the Chargers' fifth consecutive loss.

Standout guard Kris Dielman was put on the injured reserve last week with a concussion; Mruczkowski was playing for Dielman. The Chargers are also playing without starting offensive linemen Marcus McNeill and Louis Vasquez — and Vasquez's backup, Tyronne Green, is dealing with an injury, too.

San Diego signed three offensive linemen last week. It could now sign another one to replace Mruczkowski.

Receiver Malcom Floyd (hip) and linebacker Shaun Phillips (foot) remained out of practice. They’ve both missed several weeks. Running back Ryan Mathews (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Union-Tribune adds, quarterback Philip Rivers convened a short players-only talk on the field after Wednesday's practice.

AFC West injury news

November, 18, 2011
Upon my arrival home from Denver, let’s take a look at some key AFC West injury developments heading in the remaining Week 11 action:

In Oakland, the Raiders will definitely be without running back Darren McFadden (foot), receiver Jacoby Ford (foot) and cornerback Chris Johnson (groin) again. However, the team is focused on whether or not star defensive lineman Richard Seymour (ankle) will play Sunday at Minnesota. The team is hopeful Seymour will play. But he missed the entire practice week. Safety Michael Huff suffered a setback and he is questionable to play with an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s game.

McFadden hasn’t played since week 7. The team is hopeful he could potentially play next week against visiting Chicago. However, with backup Michael Bush playing well, there is no need to rush McFadden back. There’s no timetable for Ford’s return. He was hurt Nov. 10 at San Diego.

In San Diego, as expected, the Chargers will be without several key players. The Chargers’ injury woes begin on the offensive line. With standout guard Kris Dielman out for the year because of a concussion, the team will also be without left tackle Marcus McNeill (stinger) and will likely be without guard Louis Vasquez (ankle) Sunday at Chicago. He is listed as doubtful. The team has been expecting this problem all week.

Receiver Malcom Floyd (hip) and linebacker Shaun Phillips (foot) remain out. They’ve both missed multiple games. Standout defensive tackle Antonio Garay (hip) is questionable to play Sunday.

In Kansas City, defensive end Glenn Dorsey (knee), starting cornerback Brandon Flowers (back) and Brandon Carr (ankle) were limited for the second straight day of practice. They were joined on the limited list by safety Jon McGraw (shoulder). The four players will have an extra day to heal. Kansas City plays at New England on Monday.

Raiders, Chargers limp into game

November, 9, 2011
The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers will not be healthy when they meet on a short week Thursday night in San Diego in a critical game between the two 4-4 teams.

Oakland coach Hue Jackson told reporters that running back Darren McFadden and cornerbacks Chris Johnson and DeMarcus Van Dyke will not play Thursday. McFadden, who will continue to be replaced by Michael Bush, has been expected to be out. He hasn’t played since early in Week 7 when he suffered a foot injury. The Raiders will try to get him ready for their next game, Nov. 20 at Minnesota.

Newly signed Lito Sheppard start at cornerback opposite Stanford Routt.

The Chargers will try to take advantage of the Raiders’ injuries, but they are banged up. Guard Kris Dielman is out and receiver Malcom Floyd and linebacker Shaun Philips are listed as doubtful. Running back Ryan Mathews is expected to play after missing Sunday’s loss to Green Bay with a groin injury.

The Raiders have several players who are questionable including defensive lineman Richard Seymour, safety Michael Huff, linebacker Rolando McClain, kicker Sebastian Janikowski and offensive linemen Samson Satele and Khalif Barnes.

This is a big game for both times that is tied for first place in the AFC West with Kansas City. The Chargers have lost three in a row and Oakland has lost two straight. Both teams will have to try to get on the right track despite being banged up.

Midseason report: AFC West MVPs

November, 9, 2011
Midseason MVPs: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Here are my picks for midseason most valuable player for each team in the division:

Denver Broncos: Willis McGahee

McGahee is turning out to be a fine free-agent addition for the Broncos. He leads the AFC West with 623 yards rushing. McGahee, 30, is averaging 5.1 yards a carry. Signed to be a complementary back, McGahee has been, by far, more productive than expected starter Knowshon Moreno. McGahee, who had a combined 209 carries in the past two seasons with Baltimore, took over a Week 9 game in Oakland with 163 yards on 17 carries, including touchdown runs of 60 and 24 yards in the second half as the Broncos stunned the Raiders. Denver is 3-5 and one game off the pace in the AFC West. McGahee is a big reason the Broncos are in the race.

[+] EnlargeDwyane Bowe
Mike Carter/US PresswireDwayne Bowe has 39 catches for 646 yards and four touchdowns for the 4-4 Chiefs.
Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe

Bowe is continuing to show he is one of the NFL’s better receivers. He leads the AFC West with 646 receiving yards. Bowe makes the rest of the offensive players in Kansas City better and he is the Chiefs' top offensive weapon with Jamaal Charles out for the season. Bowe is a prospective free agent and he is again showing Kansas City management he needs a contract extension.

Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden

We are seeing McFadden’s true value to the Raiders with him on the sideline. He has been out with a foot injury since early in Week 7 and Oakland has not been competitive since he's been out. He was an early candidate for the NFL MVP award and is averaging 5.4 yards a carry with 614 rushing yards. This is the second straight season in which McFadden has been a dominant force. If he can quickly come back and stay healthy, the Raiders will have a strong chance of emerging as division champions.

San Diego Chargers: Eric Weddle

This was my toughest decision. Quarterback Philip Rivers has put up big yardage and he has his share of big plays. Yet Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions and he has made key mistakes in all four of the Chargers’ losses. If he would have cut his mistakes in half, the Chargers would be 6-2 or 7-1. Plus, several other key weapons, such as receiver Vincent Jackson, tight end Antonio Gates, running backs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert and linebacker Shaun Phillips have been dealing with injuries. But Weddle has been a steadying force for this team. The San Diego secondary has been mostly stable and the play-making Weddle has been a strong anchor. He has five interceptions, which is tied for the NFL lead. Weddle is justifying the big-dollar contract extension the team gave him this summer.

Raiders missing several key players

November, 8, 2011
Eleven Oakland Raiders did not practice Tuesday in the only real practice day of the week prior to their game at San Diego on Thursday.

Among the players who didn’t practice were running back Darren McFadden (foot), offensive linemen Samson Satele (knee) and Khalif Barnes (shoulder), defensive lineman Richard Seymour (ankle), cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring) and Chris Johnson (hamstring), safeties Michael Huff (ankle) and Mike Mitchell (ankle) and kicker Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring).

Some of these players will likely play. McFadden, who hasn’t played since Week 7, isn't expected to be one of them, though. Each team will release their injury report Wednesday.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports receiver Malcom Floyd (hip), guard Kris Dielman (concussion) and linebacker Shaun Phillips (foot) will not play. They have been out. Running back Ryan Mathews, who missed the last week’s game with a groin injury, is expected to play Thursday.

In other AFC West news:
  • The NFL has honored Denver Broncos’ receiver/returner Eddie Royal as its AFC special teams player of the week for his efforts in the Broncos’ upset win at Oakland on Sunday. Royal had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown to give Denver the lead with 5:53 remaining in the game.
  • I don’t see defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth being a fit in the AFC West. His reputation for being a troublemaker will likely preclude any interest from the team in the division, although Denver could likely use him. He was cut by the Patriots on Tuesday. He is now available through waivers.

Best in the West

September, 14, 2011
Here is a look at the division leaders in some key statistical categories after Week 1:

Passing yards

Player: Philip Rivers, San Diego.

Yards: 335

What does it mean: Rivers wasn’t sharp for the entire game, but he was when the Chargers most needed him to be.

Rushing yards

Player: Darren McFadden, Oakland

Yards: 150

What does it mean: The brilliant McFadden leads the NFL in rushing.


Player: Brandon Lloyd, Denver

Yards: 89

What does it mean: Lloyd wants to show 2010 wasn’t a fluke.


Player: Takeo Spikes, San Diego

Total: 11

What does it mean: The fiery inside linebacker had a tremendous debut for the Chargers.


Player: Richard Seymour, Oakland

Sacks: 2

What does it mean: He is the leader of a dynamic front four.


Player: Matt Giordano, Oakland; Shaun Phillips, San Diego; Brandon Flowers, Kansas City

Interceptions: 1

What does it mean: It’s way too early to tell.

AFC West season awards

January, 28, 2011
Hali, Charles & RiversIcon SMITamba Hali, Jamaal Charles and Philip Rivers all earned honors for their performances in 2010.
Although the success of the four AFC West teams was mixed -- Kansas City and Oakland made strides while San Diego and Denver both took steps back -- there were several strong individual performances by players on every team in the division.

Let’s take a look at our 2010 season awards:


Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

Why: There are many reasons why the Chiefs -- who won a total of 10 games in the three previous seasons -- won 10 games and their first AFC West championship in seven years, but the play of Charles was the biggest. He was second in the NFL with 1,467 rushing yards, and he led the NFL with a 6.4 per-carry average. Kansas City had the No.1 ranked run offense in the NFL. Charles was the spark plug to this improved offense. Charles was the most exciting player on the division winner.

Offensive Player of the year

Philip Rivers, San Diego

Why: Rivers had a huge 2010 season. Rivers, who turned 29 in December, is in his prime and continues to get better. He threw for an NFL high 4,710 yards. He is the AFC Pro Bowl starter. Had the Chargers, who dipped from 13-3 in 2009 to 9-7 in 2010 and were out of the playoffs for the first time in five years, had a better overall record, Rivers would have been a strong NFL MVP candidate.

Defensive player of the year

Tamba Hali, Kansas City

Why: Hali had been a favorite of scouts, but with little fanfare -- until 2010. Hali flourished in the 3-4 system of Kansas City's new defensive coordinator, Romeo Crennel. Hali led the AFC with 14.5 sacks. He is a dominant player. While players like Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha and Richard Seymour and San Diego’s Shaun Phillips all had strong seasons, no one defensive player in the AFC West had an impact on his team's overall defense as much as Hali did. He is a free agent, and the Chiefs will probably either give him the franchise tag or a long-term contract.

Coach of the year

Todd Haley, Kansas City

Why: Haley led the Chiefs to a worst-to-first turnaround. Few expected the Chiefs, who were 4-12 in Haley’s first season, to make such a fast turnaround. Haley will probably be a candidate to win the NFL coach of the year award when it’s announced Wednesday. There’s no other choice in the AFC West.

Comeback player of the year

Brandon Lloyd, Denver

Why: Lloyd had an astounding season after being inactive for 14 games in 2009. In 2010, at the age of 29, the former journeyman had a career year. He led the NFL with 1,448 receiving yards. He gained first downs on 72 of 77 of his catches, which was a 93.5 percentage. It was the highest first-down percentage of any receiver in the NFL in the past 10 seasons.

Offensive rookie of the year

Tony Moeaki, Kansas City

Why: The Kansas City tight end became one of Matt Cassel’s favorite targets. He had 47 catches for 556 yards and three touchdowns. Moeaki’s rookie season production far exceeded the rookie-season production of former Kansas City superstar tight end Tony Gonzalez. I’m not saying Moeaki -- a third-round pick from Iowa -- will have a career like Gonzalez’s, but he was terrific. Moeaki can split the field and he has soft hands.

Defensive rookie of the year

Eric Berry, Kansas City

Why: Berry was as advertised when he entered the draft out of Tennessee. Usually, safeties are not considered at the top of the draft, but Berry was considered a game changer and he delivered as a rookie. The No. 5 pick of a strong draft was an instant impact player in Kansas City. He is a playmaker and an intelligent anchor to a young defense. This week, he is making the first of what should be many Pro Bowl appearances.

Executive of the year

Scott Pioli, Kansas City

Why: Like Haley, Pioli deserves a lot of credit for Kansas City’s turnaround. This is suddenly a strong roster, built for the immediate future and for down the road. In two seasons as Kansas City’s general manager, Pioli has made the right calls and has built a strong roster. His work in free agency and the draft in 2010 coupled with the development of Cassel -- who was acquired in 2009 -- make Pioli the easy choice.

Specialist of the year

Jacoby Ford, Oakland

Why: Ford had three kickoff returns for touchdowns in an eight-week stretch. I expect Ford, a fourth-round pick in 2010, to become one of the game’s most dynamic players as soon as 2011. The fastest player at the combine last year, Ford is a threat to bring the ball to the house every time he touches it. Expect him to get a chance to return punts in 2011 as well as becoming a primary receiving target, which he was toward the end of the season. This is a special talent.

AFC West Pro Bowl voting update

December, 15, 2010
The NFL has released an update on the fan portion of the Pro Bowl voting process. The fan vote makes up a third of the process along with players' and coaches' votes.

The following is a look at the AFC West players who are currently in the top five of the fan vote:


Third place: Philip Rivers, San Diego


Second place: Mike Tolbert, San Diego

Tight end

First place: Antonio Gates, San Diego

Defensive tackle

Fourth place: Richard Seymour, Oakland

Outside linebacker

Fourth place: Shaun Phillips, San Diego


First place: Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland

Fourth place: Champ Bailey, Denver

Strong safety

Third place: Eric Berry, Kansas City

Fifth place: Tyvon Branch, Oakland

Free safety

Fourth place: Brian Dawkins, Denver


First place: Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland


First place: Shane Lechler, Oakland

Fifth place: Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City

Kick returner

Fourth place: Jacoby Ford, Oakland

Fifth place: Darren Sproles, San Diego

Special Teams

Fifth place: Terrance Copper, Kansas City
Here are the AFC West leaders in some key statistical categories after Week 13:


Player: Philip Rivers, San Diego

Yards: 3,642

What does it mean: Rivers is No. 2 in the NFL in this category.


Player: Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

Yards: 1,137

What does it mean: Charles is third in the NFL in this category.


Player: Brandon Lloyd, Denver

Yards: 1,153

What does it mean: Lloyd remains the NFL leader in this category.


Player: D.J. Williams, Denver

Tackles: 96

What does it mean: Williams is playing well again.


Player: Tamba Hali, Kansas City; Shaun Phillips, San Diego

Sacks: 10

What does it mean: Hali could get some defensive player of the year votes.


Player: Antoine Cason, San Diego

Interceptions: 4

What does it mean: Cason holds the lead for the second straight week.