AFC West: Tim Crowder


Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


There were several transactions involving the AFC West on Sunday.

Kansas City made a big switch at tackle. It cut Barry Richardson and claimed tackle Ryan O’Callaghan. He comes from New England.

He started seven games for the Patriots in his career and new Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli was an executive with the Patriots during O’Callaghan’s New England tenure.

O'Callaghan has a chance to start with the Chiefs. In addition to Richardson, the Chiefs cut former starter Damion McIntosh on Friday.

Also in the AFC West:

Broncos: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
10:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


Biggest surprise: Of all the AFC West cut lists, this was probably the tamest. But seeing linebacker Tim Crowder cut is a bit surprising since he was a second-round pick in 2007 and he showed promise as a rookie. He wasn’t good last season. Crowder was moved from defensive end this year. The top pick in 2007, Jarvis Moss, made the team despite being a big bust so far and despite him leaving camp earlier this year. It is also a mild surprise that running back Darius Walker was cut. He played well in the preseason. Denver kept veteran LaMont Jordan over Walker.

No brainer: Earlier in camp, some folks wondered if sixth-round pick Tom Brandstater would get replaced as the No. 3 quarterback. But the Fresno State product finished the preseason strong. New Denver coach Josh McDaniels likes Brandstater a lot and he clearly likes him more after Brandstater has flourished. With starter Kyle Orton (finger) and backup Chris Simms (ankle) both not sure things to be ready for the season opener Sept. 13 at Cincinnati, Brandstater may be forced into action. Denver thinks both Orton and Simms will be able to gut it out, but the rookie will be available if needed.

What’s next: The Broncos are far from a finished product. McDaniels has been aggressive in retooling the roster this summer. Veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday was signed Saturday. Watch for McDaniels to go back to the New England well if he sees something intriguing on the Patriots’ waiver wire. Denver could add help at receiver, offensive line and several spots on defense.

Denver and Oakland news

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
6:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson


Cut news is starting to trickle in from the AFC West.

In Denver, the Broncos have cut outside linebacker Tim Crowder and have kept outside linebacker Jarvis Moss. Moss was Denver’s top pick in 2007, while Crowder was the second-round pick. Both players were moved from defensive end to linebacker by the new Denver regime this year as it transitioned to the 3-4 defense.

Crowder had a promising rookie season, but he struggled last season. He looked good early in camp this year, but he couldn’t fully make the transition. Moss has been a huge bust so far, but Denver is giving him another chance. He left camp earlier this summer, but returned committed to the team. Denver was offering Moss in a trade during the late rounds of the April draft.

Meanwhile, it is being reported Denver finalized a deal for veteran Vonnie Holliday. He has been a free agent for more than five months. He will give Denver veteran depth on its young line. He can play both end and tackle in the 3-4. Holliday is 33, so he likely will be a part-time player.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the Raiders cut massive defensive tackle Terdell Sand and they kept undrafted rookie Desmond Bryant.

Sands was given a $1.9 million roster bonus this offseason. The team had high hopes for Sands but he fell out of favor and dropped all the way to the third team this summer, while Bryant, who is from Harvard, worked with the second team.

Sands' legacy in Oakland, other than being cut after he was paid the bonus, was reportedly punching teammate Shane Lechler on a flight home from a win at Denver last season.

Evening AFC West news and notes

August, 11, 2009
8/11/09
10:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Wrapping up a Tuesday night in the AFC West:

Dwayne Bowe is not talking about his demotion to third string in Kansas City.

The Chargers are practicing the Wildcat again. They worked on it some in the offseason. I could see the team using it once or twice during the regular season.

There is a report the Raiders made contact with linebacker Derrick Brooks. The Saints are also looking at Brooks. Brooks would be an interesting fit in Oakland. He'd likely be a role player, but he'd give great leadership.

The rookie haircut onslaught continued in the afternoon in Denver. Earlier in the day, three rookies were given terrible cuts by the veterans. After the second practice, several more rookies had their hairdos assaulted.

The Broncos are pleased with the play of linebacker Tim Crowder. He was a defensive end but has been moved to linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He was solid as a rookie but he slumped last year. If Crowder can put it together, he could get extensive playing time.

Here's another change from the Mike Shanahan era: New coach Josh McDaniels has his veterans stays in a Denver area hotel during training camp. Under Shanahan, only rookies were housed in hotels.

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

Despite allowing 28 points per game last season, the Denver Broncos used only four of their 10 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. Of those four selections, only the 18th overall pick, Robert Ayers, is a front-seven player. And, oh yeah, Denver is changing its defensive scheme to a 3-4.

Scouts Inc.: Weaknesses
AFC: South | East | West
NFC: North | South

The Broncos did draft three defensive backs and also added Renaldo Hill, Andre' Goodman and Brian Dawkins on the back end. The secondary has a chance to be vastly improved and is now fortified for the long term. But if a defense allows opposing quarterbacks to sit back in the pocket without much heat, NFL receivers are going to get open. Denver sacked opposing quarterbacks only 26 times last season, and only three defenses allowed more than the Broncos' 7.7 yards average in the passing game.

 
  Ron Chenoy/US Presswire
  The Broncos are hoping rookie Robert Ayers can give their pass rush a boost.

Of course, if a defense can't stop the run, pass defense becomes even less important. Only the winless Detroit Lions allowed a greater yards per rush average than Denver last year.

There are some pass-rushers in this front seven. Ayers has a world of upside and may end up being a force at outside linebacker. My worries with him are that he never eclipsed 3.5 sacks in any of his college seasons and will be learning a new position -- as will just about everyone on this front seven. It also is conceivable that Ayers plays defensive end in this scheme, which would be another adjustment. Denver's defensive coaching staff is excellent, but in learning new techniques, surely there will be growing pains.

Elvis Dumervil is an excellent pass-rusher. He doesn't get the publicity that he deserves as an edge rusher, but he is technically sound, has a variety of moves that he sets up very well, has great initial quickness and knows how to use his lack of height to his advantage to get under blockers' pads and bend the edge. But teams routinely run at him, and he struggled to hold the point from his 4-3 defensive end position last year. Moving a little farther away from the ball might help, but I also have doubts about his ability in coverage along with his run support.

Jarvis Moss, a former first-round pick, is a wild card here. He has done little to justify his high draft position, but the new scheme could potentially revitalize his career at outside linebacker. Still, he doesn't appear fluid or loose enough in the hips to be effective with coverage responsibilities.

D.J. Williams is going to be a starting linebacker and there are other able bodies here as well, including newly signed Andra Davis, Boss Bailey and Wesley Woodyard. Davis played in the 3-4 with the Browns, but is a declining player. Still, he is tough, a good leader and a solid enough inside linebacker. Woodyard is smaller, but he is a natural playmaker and will get time as a sub package contributor. All of these players are better off on the inside in the 3-4, yet none are ideal.

The defensive line is in worse shape than the linebackers. It wouldn't shock me if Marcus Thomas became a high-end starter for the Broncos in the near future. Tim Crowder does have some upside as well and could be better suited for the odd front. But there isn't much else to get excited about. Nose tackle is the No. 1 problem; 3-4 defenses without a presence in the middle crumble. There doesn't appear to be a presence in the middle.

Granted, the Broncos have a new coaching staff and will be running a different defensive scheme. And the personnel changes could help their cause. And surely running back after running back will not fall to injury. Everyone knows that having a strong running game is a defense's best friend. But their front seven is still a glaring weakness. I just don't see enough good players up front.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. 

Quote sheeet: Mike Shanahan

October, 6, 2008
10/06/08
5:47
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Denver coach Mike Shanahan spoke to spoke to the media Monday to review the team's 16-13 win over Tampa Bay.

He didn't shed much light on injuries to receiver Eddie Royal (ankle) and tight end Tony Scheffler (groin). He said he will give updates Wednesday.

Royal said Sunday that he has a low ankle sprain and he hopes to play Sunday against Jacksonville. He left the stadium on crutches. Scheffler told reporters today he will be fine in the long term but he is not sure if he will be able to play against Jacksonville.

Here is sampling of other topics Shanahan addressed today:

On the Broncos' defense

They played well. We did a lot of good things on defense. Any time you have six series with three plays and out, it is a good start. I was pleased with their effort throughout the game. We are starting to build and starting to make some strides forward. Hopefully, we can keep it going.

On the defenses having more enthusiasm against Tampa Bay compared to previous weeks

I wouldn't go through that. I think people have a short memory sometimes. We played three quarters against the Raiders that we allowed 128 yards in total offense, 27 zip. They are a pretty good rushing football team. We did some good things against San Diego. We have had some opportunities where we have played a good three quarters or a good quarter, but in this game we played a good four quarters.

On how WR Brandon Marshall is handling being double covered

That is football in the National Football League. You have to understand what it takes to win and the quarterback, I thought, managed the game very well. In that situation, most people don't look at the fact that we had three third-and-2's, two third-and-3's and a third-and-4 that we missed. We were 6-of-14. The ones we missed were ones that keep drives going. Instead of having 16 points, you end up having 30 points. We have been much better in our third down area. When you miss three those and you are still 6-of-14 against an excellent defense, you are doing some good things. We just have to work on that third down area to keep the ball and get some more plays. We completed 68 percent of our passes for 227 yards and that is good. You can't turn the football over and you can't get second and long and third and long, and for the most part we didn't. That is what you have to do to win the football game. Especially some of the young guys, they want to contribute but they don't understand what it takes to win sometimes. You have to make those third downs.

(Read full post)

Denver pregame look

August, 16, 2008
8/16/08
3:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com' s Bill Williamson

DENVER -- Here is a look at some keys for Denver against visiting Dallas tonight:

Ryan Clady: Denver's first-round pick has had a good training camp but he has struggled some against live competition. Houston's Mario Williams ate him up a couple times last week, and in a joint workout with Dallas, the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware had his way with Clady at times. Clady will start at left tackle for Denver, so this action against quality players will help him.

The defensive line: Denver's defensive line has not had much of a pass rush established yet. It was near nonexistent against Houston and the defense line had difficulty against Dallas' offensive line this week. It is time for Denver to show some pass rush ability. Second-year players Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder have struggled some in camp. They need to show up tonight.

Matt Prater: Jason Elam's replacement at kicker has been good is training camp. He needs to continue to kick well. He missed a 30 yarder last week, on his first attempt but made his next three field goal attempts. Denver wants to keep Prater, but he has to show he can handle the job.

NOTE: I will be covering the game tonight and will provide updates throughout the evening.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Here are some general notes from the Broncos and Cowboys workout today:

  • The Broncos defensive line was handled pretty easily by the Dallas offensive line. Denver needs its defensive line to rise to the occasion, but the ends are having problem getting a pass rush established. Jarvis Moss, the team's first-round pick last year, is struggling to do anything. Second-rounder Tim Crowder has regressed some during this camp after playing well as a rookie.
Denver's offense did well against Dallas' secondary. Jay Cutler looks like he is ready for a breakout year.
  • Cutler spent time with Dallas quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson. The two are both diabetics.

"I talked with him before practice, and he has dealt with it for a long time," Cutler said of Wilson. "He said it was manageable, just like I have been doing for the last four or five months. He went through his career with it, and I don't see any reason why I can't."

  • Denver all-time leading receiver Rod Smith, who retired three weeks ago, visited the practice. He is expected to be a presence around the team through the season.
  • Dallas coach Wade Phillips roamed the practice field he used to run. Phillips was fired as Denver's head coach after the 1994 season. He was replaced by Mike Shanahan.

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