AFC West: Travis LaBoy

It’s no surprise the San Diego Chargers released linebacker Travis LaBoy.

The Chargers selected South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram with the No. 18 pick in the draft last month and he will start at an outside linebacker spot. There just wasn’t room for LaBoy.

LaBoy was a favorite of former San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and was signed last year. Both were in San Francisco in 2010 but Manuskly was fired after the end of last season.

LaBoy started 14 games and had 38 tackles. He didn’t provide a consistent pass rush burst and finished with just one sack. Adding a pass-rusher was one of the Chargers’ biggest needs this offseason.

Meanwhile, the Chargers remain highly interested in cornerback Drayton Florence. He was cut by Buffalo last week. Florence spent his first five NFL seasons in San Diego and could be a nickel cornerback. A decision could be made this week.

Raiders score three comp picks

March, 26, 2012
The Oakland Raiders received three badly needed compensatory draft picks.

While these picks are far from ensuring the team they are going to get contributors, it does help salvage a weak class. Oakland received picks in the third, fourth and fifth rounds in next month’s draft. Oakland has the first comp pick in the third (No. 95) and fifth (No. 168) and the second comp pick of the fourth round (129). The comp picks will be added at the end of the third-through-seventh rounds. Comp picks cannot be traded.

The picks more than doubled Oakland’s draft class. Oakland has its own picks in the fifth and sixth rounds. It’s certainly not ideal that Oakland has to wait until the 95th pick to join the draft and having two picks in the first 129 picks is a tough road, but the Raiders’ draft is in better shape than it was going into Monday.

Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year are eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

In 2011, Oakland lost free agents Nnamdi Asomugha, Robert Gallery, Bruce Gradkowski, Zach Miller and Thomas Howard and signed Kevin Boss and Stephon Heyer. Teams do not get credit for comp pick consideration for cutting players.

San Diego will receive a comp pick in the seventh round (No. 248) even though it did suffer a net loss of compensatory free agents last year. Under the league’s formula, the compensatory free agents lost by San Diego were ranked lower than the ones they signed (by a specified point differential based upon salary and performance). San Diego lost Darren Sproles and Kevin Burnett, while it signed Takeo Spikes and Travis LaBoy.

In total, 15 teams received a total of 32 picks.
San Diego star receiver Vincent Jackson missed his second consecutive day of practice Thursday with a groin injury. The team is hoping he can play Saturday at Detroit. Linebacker Travis LaBoy, suffering from a knee injury, also missed practice for the second day in a row. Defensive tackle Antonio Garay was limited Thursday with a toe injury after he didn’t practice Wednesday.

In other AFC West news:

Oakland coach Hue Jackson has not ruled running back Darren McFadden, receiver Jacoby Ford, safety Michael Huff and defensive tackle John Henderson out of Saturday’s game at Kansas City. Still, it doesn’t look good that any of them will play.

Kansas City center Casey Wiegmann (calf) and safety Jon McGraw (ankle) were limited in practice for the second straight day.

Former Kansas City defensive coordinator and current Detroit defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham talked about the evolution of Antonio Gates’ game. Heading into his Chargers' game at Detroit on Saturday, the tight end is three catches from becoming San Diego's all-time leading receiver. He will get his chance to set the record in his hometown this weekend.

Denver safety Brian Dawkins was limited in practice for the second consecutive day after missing Sunday’s game against New England with a neck injury.

Will Oakland's 'D' be on the move?

December, 21, 2011
Oakland coach Hue Jackson said he would not be opposed to switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense in 2012. I wouldn’t take that as a sign that Oakland is for sure switching schemes. Jackson was just answering a question and he has shown he is not afraid to consider anything that would improve his team.

There’s been talk the past two years that Oakland could move to a 3-4 because so many of its defensive players are natural fits for the 3-4. Of course, if Oakland moves to a 3-4, that could mean a switch in coordinators. Current Oakland defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan is a 4-3 coach.

Oakland’s defense has been a problem for much of the year, so perhaps a scheme change wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.

In other AFC West news:

Receiver Vincent Jackson (groin), defensive tackle Antonio Garay (toe) and linebacker Travis LaBoy (knee) all did not practice for San Diego on Wednesday. The San Diego Union Tribune reports Jackson is on schedule to play, but LaBoy may be in danger of not being able to play at Detroit on Saturday.

Denver safety Brian Dawkins was limited in practice with a neck injury that kept him out of the New England game this past Sunday.

The Broncos’ game at Buffalo on Saturday will be blacked out. There are 24,000 seats remaining for the game pitting the Broncos, who can clinch the AFC West on Saturday, and the Bills, who have lost seven straight games.

Kansas City center Casey Wiegmann (calf) and safety Jon McGraw (ankle) were limited in practice on Wednesday.

The Raiders’ injury situation is status quo.

Evening AFC West notes

September, 30, 2011
In a fascinating tale, New England coach Bill Belichick talked about interviewing for the Raiders’ head-coaching job with owner Al Davis in 1990s. Belichick knew he didn’t have much of a chance to be hired. Since John Madden retired in 1978, all 11 of Oakland’s head coaches have been offensive specialists. Belichick is a defensive guru. Could you imagine if Belichick did go to Oakland? I wonder what could have happened.

Late-summer AFC West checkpoint

August, 26, 2011
This unusual NFL season is about to start in two weeks. A lot has happened in the month since the lockout has been lifted. With the signing period and training camps over, let’s take a checkpoint look at each AFC West team:


Key pickups: Running back Willis McGahee, defensive tackle Ty Warren (he could be out for the year with a triceps injury), defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, defensive end Derrick Harvey, tight end Daniel Fells.

Key losses: Offensive tackle Ryan Harris.

Story of camp: There has been quarterback news nearly at a daily clip. The fallout is this: Kyle Orton is the starter, Brady Quinn looks like he has the edge to be the backup and second-year quarterback Tim Tebow is currently the third-stringer after a less-than-spectacular training camp. Don’t expect Denver to trade or cut Tebow. He should be in Denver this year, but perhaps being nothing more than a special-package player. Give credit to both Orton (who was nearly dealt to Miami in the days right after the lockout ended) and to Quinn. Both have played well during the tumultuous time at the position.

Keep an eye on: Denver’s defense. The Broncos took a hit with Warren’s injury. He was the team’s big-ticket pickup and he was signed to give stability at the team’s weakest area. But the Broncos seem to have made some strides on defense this summer. The unit, which was No. 32 in the NFL last year, seems more aggressive and it has some playmakers. Pass-rushers Elvis Dumervil (back from missing all of last season with a pectoral injury) and No. 2 overall pick Von Miller look like they could give this unit life. It's clear new head coach John Fox has already positively impacted this unit.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson's view: "Denver may be better than people realize. I don’t love the offense, but it will be OK. Defensively, I think they will be much better. I think the front office had a promising offseason as they rebuild.”

Kansas City

Key pickups: Receiver Steve Breaston, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, fullback Le'Ron McClain, offensive tackle Jared Gaither, linebacker Brandon Siler (he is out for season with a torn Achilles).

Key losses: Defensive linemen Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith

Story of camp: The defending AFC West champions had a nice, quiet, productive camp -- until the final days of it. The Chiefs built great momentum after adding several key veterans to an already-impressive roster. The only controversy was whether or not coach Todd Haley was taking a chance by taking camp slowly as a precaution because of missed time during the offseason due to the lockout. Then, the bombshell hit. It was reported that first-round pick Jon Baldwin and veteran running Thomas Jones had a locker room fight. Baldwin hurt his hand as a result and he is expected to miss the rest of the preseason. The Chiefs aren’t talking about it, but it is a strike against Baldwin, who had character concerns at Pitt. The Chiefs took Baldwin to help them win right away. This event isn’t a devastating blow, but it has to raise concerns.

Keep an eye on: Of all of the Chiefs’ moves, the signing of Gaither may be the most intriguing -- and the most promising if he can stay healthy. Before he missed all of last season with a back injury, Gaither was considered one of the better young left tackles in the NFL. Assuming he can play, Gaither could play either left tackle or right tackle. If he plays left tackle, Branden Albert would move to right tackle. He could further solidify a good line.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson's view: “I think Kansas City is the second-best team in the division. Give the Chiefs credit. They have surrounded Matt Cassel with every possible weapon to help make him successful. They are also solid on defense. I just don’t think they are as good as the Chargers.”


Key pickups: Tight end Kevin Boss, quarterback Trent Edwards, quarterback Terrelle Pryor

Key losses: Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, tight end Zach Miller, guard Robert Gallery

Story of camp: The Raiders lost some big names and they added some big names as they began the Hue Jackson era. However, a late-round pick from Tennessee stole the show in camp. It has been all about receiver Denarius Moore. He made headlines virtually every day in camp with one spectacular catch after another. Most importantly, he has played well in preseason games and he looks polished. Expect the Raiders to give this kid a chance to contribute right away once the regular season starts.

Keep an eye on: The Raiders’ health has been an issue all camp. Several players have missed serious time. Thus far, though, it doesn’t look like many key players will miss time in the regular season other than receiver Louis Murphy, who had surgery on an undisclosed injury, and young linebacker Travis Goethel is likely out for the year with a knee injury. The team said he won’t play at Denver on Sept. 12, but it hasn’t said how long he will be out. Other players such as Boss, receiver Chaz Schilens and cornerback Chris Johnson all could be back for the opener, which is part of an ESPN “Monday Night Football” doubleheader. Thus far, most of the injuries have been nagging and fairly minor. But sometimes the injury bug hits a team and doesn’t stop all season. For now, this is mostly a preseason nuisance.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson's view: "There are things I like. I love the front seven. I love Darren McFadden. But Jason Campbell is an average quarterback on a good day and the offensive line is in flux. Overall, inconsistencies make this the third best team in the division.”

San Diego

Key pickups: Linebacker Takeo Spikes, safety Bob Sanders, pass-rusher Travis LaBoy

Key losses: Running back Darren Sproles, linebacker Kevin Burnett, receiver Legedu Naanee.

Story of camp: I didn't sense this team scrambling to make up for lost time following the lockout. For the most part, the key components of this team are in place and several players worked out together locally during the length of the lockout. The Chargers had seemingly a zillion free agents and they kept the players they wanted. So, it has been a smooth camp in San Diego as continuity has been the key.

Keep an eye on: A lot has been made of the arrival of Spikes and Sanders to the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL. But don’t discount impact of No. 18 overall pick Corey Liuget. The Illinois product has been outstanding. He has taken over the preseason games at times. He is an explosive defensive end who quickly gets into the backfield. The game doesn’t seem too big for Liuget. Expect him to be an instant starter and have a chance to be a premier player early in his career.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson's view: “I think San Diego is clearly the class of the division. I don’t think people are paying enough attention to this team. I love the offense. Philip Rivers is good as it gets. He has great weapons. Defensively, this team has added playmakers at every level. If the special teams can improve even marginally, they are going to win a lot more games. This could be the year. I think they are a sleeper team that could win it all.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that linebacker Brandon Siler has reached a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

A source close to the situation told me that Siler will take a physical with the Chiefs and is expected to sign if he passes. Siler will likely compete for a starting job at inside linebacker. If he doesn’t unseat the solid Jovan Belcher, he will likely be a solid special-teams player.

This is an interesting move. The Chargers didn’t put a premium on Siler, but he can help the Chiefs if he signs.

Meanwhile, the Union-Tribune reports there is a ”slim chance” that the Chargers will bring back receiver Malcom Floyd. His market has been slow to develop.

The Broncos are visiting with former No. 8 overall pick Jamaal Anderson. Denver general manager Brian Xanders was with the Falcons when they took the defensive lineman in 2007.

I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers make a run at San Francisco’s Manny Lawson. They have added former 49ers Takeo Spikes and Travis LaBoy. New San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky came over from San Francisco.

The Rams kept defensive tackle Danny Muir. He was connected to the Broncos.

The Union-Tribune reports former Charger linebacker Antwan Applewhite has agreed to terms with the 49ers. He was cut last week.
The San Diego Chargers lost one of their free-agent targets when inside linebacker Kevin Burnett signed with Miami. Burnett's deal was for four years and $21 million with nearly $10 million in guaranteed money.

While Burnett did have a nice season, there was no way the Chargers were going to pay him that much.

The Chargers could potentially re-sign Brandon Siler. Fellow free agent Stephen Cooper is not expected back. San Diego could also look at former Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett, but they probably wouldn’t overspend for him.

The Chargers did sign Takeo Spikes, who will start at an inside linebacker position. By re-signing several of their own free agents and grabbing the likes of Sproles, Bob Sanders and Travis LaBoy, the Chargers spent a lot of cash and just couldn’t fit in Burnett financially.

Meanwhile, the Chargers’ lone unsigned draft pick is first-round pick Corey Liuget. The Chargers re-signed a key backup.

Chargers add pass rusher

July, 29, 2011
Let’s catch up on some AFC West happenings that occurred during the flurry of Oakland activity:

The Chargers signed pass-rusher Travis LaBoy to a two-year deal. He was with new San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky in San Francisco. LaBoy is a good, situational player. It’s a nice pickup. He is the second former 49er the Chargers agreed to terms with this week. Inside linebacker Takeo Spikes was added Tuesday.

More talk that the Broncos-Dolphins trade talk involving quarterback Kyle Orton is dead for now. It looks like Orton will be in Denver, unless another team's starter gets hurt.

Denver prized rookie linebacker Von Miller suffered a minor injury and had to leave practice. He is day-to-day.

Keep on an eye on former New England defensive tackle Ty Warren in Kansas City. He played for Chiefs’ general manager Scot Pioli and Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel with the Patriots. He could be a good rotation player.

In addition to Nnamdi Asomugha, the Eagles brought in former Raiders’ returner Johnnie Lee Higgins.

The Football Outsiders analyze the Asomugha signing.

The Jets brought out the big guns for Asomugha and still couldn’t land him.

Vince Young will not be coming to the AFC West.

The Chiefs re-signed running back Jackie Battle, tackle Ryan O’Callaghan, tight end Leonard Pope and they announced fullback Mike Cox signed his restricted free agent tender and safety Reshard Langford signed his exclusive rights free agent tender.

AFC West mailbag

May, 21, 2011
Weekend mail call:

Andrew from Los Angeles wants to know why Philadelphia quarterback Kevin Kolb would likely be more expensive than Denver’s Kyle Orton on the trade market.

Bill Williamson: Kolb is 26 and many scouts believe he has a future as an upper-echelon quarterback. Orton is 28 and is considered more of a game manager and is perhaps a stop-gap quarterback. That is why the price tag will probably be higher for Kolb even though he has less playing experience than Orton. Kolb's upside may be higher.

Brian from San Diego wants to know if I think Oakland fifth-round pick Denarius Moore could be a steal.

BW: He is a guy that many league observers like. He has a nice skill set and he came on strong late last season. He could be the type of player that has a chance to contribute right away. Now, he was a fifth-round pick, so it may be a tad optimistic to think he is going to be a stalwart, but he seems like a prospect to watch.

Edward Moretti from Imperial Beach, Calif., wants to know if Travis LaBoy could be a possibility for San Diego once free agency begins.

BW: I could see it. He would be a low-cost player who could fill a situational pass-rushing role. He had five sacks in a reserve role in San Francisco last season. He played for new San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Combine the cost, coach connection and need and LaBoy looks like a player who could be on San Diego’s radar.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- First round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey said he is wearing No. 12 to honor a father figure, who recently died. He said Richard Woodley, the father of his close friend, wore No. 12 in high school and in college. He said he hopes to wear the number during the season.

  • I was struck by the personalities of Oakland's draft picks during the minicamp. Teams are drafting for character more and more these days and the early returns in Denver and in Oakland are good.
  • The Raiders didn't throw the ball deep much last season. However, during Friday's morning practice, they aired it out often. Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell looks to be in good shape. Last year, he battled rumors about his weight.
  • Running back Darren McFadden looked great. He has a quick burst. If he can stay healthy, watch for a big year from the second-year player. McFadden split out as a receiver on some plays Friday.
  • Receiver Javon Walker is out until training camp after yet another knee surgery. I wouldn't be shocked if Walker ends up missing significant playing time because of injury for the fourth time in five seasons. Walker's health may be one of the reasons why Oakland signed receiver Sami Parker on Friday.
  • Rookie receivers Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy, a fourth-round pick, met on a visit to Maryland. Heyward-Bey went to Maryland and Murphy went to Florida.
  • The Raiders still have Marquis Cooper's name on their roster. He was lost at sea in March after a fishing trip in Florida.
  • Russell said he is learning a lot from new backup quarterback Jeff Garcia.
  • Tight end Zach Miller is recovering from a sports hernia is expected to be ready for training camp.
  • If the Raiders pursue Bay Area native Travis LaBoy it may be down the road. The pass rusher, who was just cut from Arizona, is recovering from an injury and he likely won't sign anywhere for several weeks.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Pass rusher Travis LaBoy, cut by Arizona on Tuesday, may be a good fit in both Kansas City and Denver. If he can stay healthy, he'd fit in the 3-4 defense both teams are adopting. Kansas City head coach Todd Haley and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast knows LaBoy from their Cardinals days.

Denver finalized a deal with backup linebacker Nick Greisen and cut fullback Andrew Pinnock.

The Kansas City Star suggests Kansas City -- which has a ton of salary-cap room -- to go get a big fish in free agency, starting with Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill.

Here's a fine look at the fire that burns inside new Oakland safety Mike Mitchell.

San Diego top pick Larry English discuses fitting into the Chargers' defense with star Shawne Merriman in a radio interview.

Mr. Irreverent speaks about being a Chief in a radio interview.

The Raiders have signed more college free agents.