NFL Nation: Colin Baxter

Could Raiders pursue Jon Gruden?

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
10:23
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A report out of Chicago claims that the Raiders are “in talks” to bring back Jon Gruden as coach.

OK, OK, Raider Nation, quiet down. I can hear your squeals of delight from here.

But hold off a bit. I don’t want to discount any report, but I am not going to get too much into this until there is more. I want to acknowledge it, but until there is more steam, I think we have to say it is a long shot. But anything can happen and it is worth keeping an eye on.

But I think, many, many things would have to happen before something so dramatic would occur. Gruden has said he is committed to ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” This is not the first report about Gruden’s future and it very likely won’t be the last.

In other AFC West news:

The Raiders’ game against Denver on Thursday night will be televised locally.

Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard did not practice Tuesday with an ankle injury. He could be pressed to play Thursday at Oakland. He was hurt Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The Chargers placed receiver Seyi Ajirotutu (hand) and center David Molk (thumb) on injured reserve. In addition to center/guard Colin Baxter, San Diego signed guard/tackle Stephen Schilling to help its battered offensive line. Like Baxter, Schilling has played for the Chargers before.

Denver coach John Fox opened his press briefing Tuesday by expressing his condolences to Oakland coach Dennis Allen. His father, Grady Allen, died Tuesday. Allen was the Broncos’ defensive coordinator last season.

Halftime: Chargers 24, Jaguars 14

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
10:21
PM ET
Some random halftime thoughts:

The Chargers took over late in the first half with two touchdowns.

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers hit rookie Vincent Brown -- who has been impressive in recent weeks -- for a touchdown pass with 1:33 to go in the half to give the Chargers the lead. Then after an interception, Rivers hit Vincent Jackson for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds to go. San Diego took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter before Jacksonville reeled off 14 straight points.

Rivers had a good half. He was 16-of-21 for 202 yards.

The banged-up Chargers suffered more injuries in the first half. Standout center Nick Hardwick is out with a neck injury. The San Diego offensive line has been decimated by injuries. They are playing without three starters.

Linebacker Donald Butler is also out with an injury. Jacksonville had much of its running success with Butler out.

San Diego ran the ball early with Ryan Mathews getting 56 yards on six carries.

Final Word: AFC West

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
1:30
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 3:

Tolbert not a force at the goal line: The San Diego Chargers would like to see bowling-ball running back Mike Tolbert regain his mojo at the goal line Sunday against visiting Kansas City. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Tolbert has scored on just 1-of-6 goal-to-go situations in two games. Last year, he was 10-of-21 in those situations. Tolbert was stopped on fourth-and-inches at the goal line at New England last week. It was one of the most crucial plays of the game.

[+] EnlargeSan Diego's Mike Tolbert
AP Photo/Charles KrupaThe Chargers need to get more production around the goal line from running back Mike Tolbert.
Raiders need to put hex on Rex: One of the reasons New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has been so effective as a head coach is his confidence. He is not afraid to play anywhere. He certainly won’t fret about entering the Black Hole on Sunday. Since he took over the Jets in 2009, Ryan’s team is 6-0 against non-divisional AFC competition on the road. It’s up to the Raiders to show Ryan the road can be a tough place.

Last trip to San Diego not good karma for Chiefs: The last thing the Kansas City Chiefs need right now is bad memories. The Chiefs are floundering at 0-2. They have been outscored 89-10 in two games, they have injury issues, and coach Todd Haley is reportedly on the hot seat. A win at San Diego would solve a lot of problems, but the Chiefs will not be hitting the field in San Diego with terrific memories. The Chargers hammered the Chiefs, 31-0, in Week 14 of last season -- Kansas City's last visit. The Chiefs were without quarterback Matt Cassel, who had an appendectomy earlier that week.

Did the Titans pick the right QB? Before the end of the lockout, there was speculation the Tennessee Titans would pursue a veteran quarterback to help groom first-round pick Jake Locker. A lot of the speculation centered on Denver’s Kyle Orton. However, instead of trading for Orton, the Titans signed Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck. In the end, Orton didn’t get dealt, and now the two veterans will face each other Sunday in Nashville. So far, Hasselbeck is enjoying a fast start for the Titans, so they probably don’t have any regrets going into this matchup.

Raiders’ defensive front could have a field day: New York star center Nick Mangold is out for Sunday’s game. Rookie free-agent Colin Baxter is expected to start in his place. Baxter was claimed off waivers from the Chargers after the Chargers cut him with the intent of stashing him on the practice squad earlier this month. Baxter has had nine practices with the Jets and will be in charge of protecting Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has a bruised arm. The Raiders’ defensive front, one of the best in the league, must take advantage of this. They have to attack the middle of the Jets’ line and try to make life as difficult as possible for Baxter. If Baxter fails, the Jets are prepared to use left guard Matt Slauson at center. That would put the Jets’ offensive line in even more upheaval.

Thoughts on C Nick Mangold's injury

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
3:15
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Here is more injury news in the AFC East: Jets center Nick Mangold (ankle) is expected to miss at least two weeks with a high-ankle sprain, ESPNNewYork's Rich Cimini reports.

Here are some thoughts on the injury:
  • It's no secret that this is a big blow for the Jets. New York already had trouble running the football. Mangold anchored the center of the offensive line. In many ways, he was the "quarterback" of that unit. Rookie Colin Baxter is expected to start in Mangold's place Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
  • I saw a lot of high-ankle sprains with the Cleveland Browns the past two years, and they're not pretty. There's various degrees of sprains and every player heals differently. But in my experience, two weeks could be generous. Some players with the Browns took about a month to recover. Mangold is very tough and will be pushing to return quickly. New York needs Mangold for the long-term and needs to guard against that, as well.
  • Mangold is the second starting center in the AFC East to suffer a leg injury. Patriots center Dan Koppen broke his fibula in Week 1 and will be out for a significant period. New England adjusted well Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. The Jets hope they can do the same without Mangold.

Report: Chargers lose two prospects

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
2:57
PM ET
This has to sting the San Diego Chargers a bit.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that two undrafted rookies the Chargers cut were claimed. Quarterback Scott Tolzien was claimed by San Francisco and center/guard Colin Baxter was claimed by the New York Jets.

It’s not overly common for undrafted free agents to be claimed right after not making the 53-man roster. Tolzien and Baxter both had good summers.

The Chargers liked Tolzien a lot. The paper reported that the Chargers saw him as a potential future backup to Philip Rivers. Now, San Diego just has Rivers and backup Billy Volek in the program. That is all it needs, but it would have been nice for the team to develop Tolzien. Now that the gamble to try to stash Tolzien on the practice squad didn’t work, the Chargers could look to add a young quarterback to the practice squad.

Baxter made a push to the make San Diego’s 53-man roster. The Chargers liked him for his versatility.

While it hurts the Chargers to lose two prospects, this could be, in the big picture, a positive sign. The fact that the Chargers didn’t find room on the 53-man roster for two talented players like this might be an indication of how deep the roster is.

Meanwhile, Carolina reportedly claimed defensive back Stevie Brown, who was cut by the Raiders. The 2010 draft pick was not eligible for the practice squad, so Oakland knew it was saying goodbye to Brown when it cut him.

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