NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

NFL Nation: Jacksonville Jagaurs

Chargers add to O-line

March, 12, 2013
The San Diego Chargers signed tackle King Dunlap.

He is massive at 6-foot-9, 330 pounds. He started 12 games last season for the Eagles. He can play both left and right tackle. The Chargers have massive needs on the offensive line.

I think Dunlap will be given a chance to earn a spot at either right tackle or as a key backup, perhaps with the latter being the most likely scenario. This very likely doesn’t mean the Chargers are done looking for a starting left tackle. That is currently the spot where the team is expected to use the No. 11 pick.

In other AFC West news:

It has been reported the Raiders are interested in Jets’ guard Matt Slauson. He played under new Oakland offensive line coach Tony Sparano in 2012.

The NFL Network reports Denver pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil is now open to taking a pay cut with Denver. That probably means he doesn’t think his market would be great in free agency.

The Broncos are visiting with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. He is sought after. He played for Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio with the Jaguars. CBS Sports is reporting Denver is interested in Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour. He could help a contender on a limited basis.

The Raiders are reportedly interested in Cleveland linebacker Kaluka Maiava. The USC product started 13 games on the weakside for the Browns.

OAKLAND -- A look at an ugly one in overtime:

What it means: The Raiders came back from a 14-point deficit to win in overtime to improve to 2-4. This game wasn’t pretty and the Raiders had their problems, but they came back and beat Jacksonville. Credit to Oakland for not folding when it was down by two touchdowns. The Raiders trail first-place Denver and San Diego, both 3-3, by one game in the division and they play two struggling teams, Kansas City and Tampa Bay, in the next two weeks. Maybe this win will spark Oakland.

Jaguars short-handed: The Raiders were quite fortunate. Jacksonville played without quarterback Blaine Gabbert and running back Maurice Jones-Drew for much of the game. Jacksonville could muster very little offense in the second half. Gabbert’s replacement, Chad Henne, was, in a word, awful.

Questionable coaching: Both Oakland coach Dennis Allen and Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey made several questionable calls. Allen burned his timeouts early in the second half. Mularkey went for it on fourth down late in the second quarter when he should have punted; Oakland turned it into three points. Also, with less than seven minutes to go in the game, Mularkey called three straight passing plays even though Henne was struggling mightily. All three passes were incomplete. He needs to burns the clock by running. The Jaguars made several crucial penalties in the fourth quarter. Mularkey inexplicably called timeout in the final seconds when the Raiders were trying to run out the clock and go to overtime.

What’s next: Oakland goes to Kansas City next Sunday to face the 1-5 Chiefs.

Halftime: Chargers 24, Jaguars 14

December, 5, 2011
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.
You have to put the Kansas City Chiefs on the list of teams that will likely consider signing quarterback David Garrard. He was cut by Jacksonville on Tuesday.

The Chiefs have the worst backup quarterback situation in the AFC West. It would make perfect sense for the team to consider adding a veteran who has started 76 NFL games.

Arguably, even at this late date, the Chiefs would be better off signing Garrard now and have him quickly learn their system this week just in case starter Matt Cassel can’t play rather than relying on backup Tyler Palko. Cassel suffered a rib injury last Thursday at Green Bay. Cassel practiced on Monday and he said he plans to play Sunday. But, the fact that he is nursing a rib injury means he could suffer a setback during the game.

If that happens, the current plan is for Palko to play. The 28-year-old has thrown just six passes in regular-season action. Palko has been decent at times in the preseason. But the general consensus has been if a better backup option emerges, the Chiefs could look to add a veteran between Cassel and rookie Ricky Stanzi.

Garrard is a solid option. But there will likely be competition for Garrard. If the Chiefs want Garrard they may have to move quickly.

Denver to talk to Dirk Koetter

January, 7, 2011
New Denver football czar John Elway just announced that the Broncos have received permission to speak to Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to talk to about their head-coaching job.

Koetter has head-coaching experience, which Elway has said is a positive. He coached both Arizona State and Boise State. Koetter is known for his work with quarterbacks.

Koetter is a good football man. But like the other names currently on Denver’s list, he's not exactly a headliner. Expect more names to emerge in this search, which could be a slow process.

Final Word: AFC West

December, 10, 2010
» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:

Elements shouldn’t be an issue this time around: It is supposed to be a brilliant day in San Diego for the biggest game of the AFC West season to date. The forecast calls for a sunny day with the temperature expected to be between 75-80 degrees. Yes, perfect weather for a game in which the 8-4 Chiefs can move to the doorstep of the division title and the 6-6 Chargers must win to have any chance of keeping their four-year division championship streak alive. The conditions should be much different than when these teams played in Kansas City in Week 1. The Chiefs won the Monday Night Monsoon game, 21-14. Kansas City was able to adjust to the rain and the Chargers were clearly affected. It should be an even playing field this time.

Mike Tolbert
Icon SMIMike Tolbert has been the Chargers' go-to running back inside the 3-yard line, scoring seven touchdowns on 12 carries from that distance.
Better than the last time: The Raiders are 6-6 and still in the playoff race as they head to Jacksonville. The team has made progress and continues to climb out of a seven-year funk. Three years ago, Oakland played in a late-season game in Jacksonville. It was the first extensive playing experience for rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell. The game was highly anticipated in Oakland because Russell was the No. 1 overall pick, but he was awful in a 49-11 defeat. He completed 30 percent of his passes and had a passer’s rating of 17.4. It never really got much better for Russell, who was finally cut by the Raiders in May.

Draft-pick bowl: The first game of what will likely be the four-game Eric Studesville era is a winnable game for the 3-9 Broncos at Arizona. But is it worth it? According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Cardinals (3-9) are on pace to have the No. 5 overall draft pick. Denver -- which fired second-year coach Josh McDaniels on Monday -- is on pace to have the No. 6 pick. Thus, the winner of the game will be on pace for a worse draft pick. Of course, both teams will want to win to make this miserable season a little less, well, miserable. But in the end, a better draft pick means more drafting power in April.

Tolbert is a go-to player at the goal line: If the Chargers get to the goal line, the Chiefs will likely know the play, especially if it's a run. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Chargers’ running back Mike Tolbert is tied for the NFL lead with 12 carries inside the opponents' 3-yard line. He has scored seven touchdowns in those situations, second behind NFL leading rusher Arian Foster of Houston. The bowling-ball shaped Tolbert is a perfect goal-line threat because it usually takes multiple defenders to bring him down.

Raiders are traditionalists: According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Raiders lead the NFL in traditional two-running back, two-receiver and one tight-end sets. The Raiders have run 286 plays out of that basic set. The Jets are No. 2 in the league with 10 fewer plays than Oakland. The Raiders have been average using the set. They have gained 1,446 yards, which is far from the league lead. But it seems like Oakland’s offense is evolving as their receivers and tight end Zach Miller close in on regaining their health. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson called a very strong game Sunday against San Diego, and it seems like the unit may get more creative in the final quarter of the season.

Seven-step drop: Bengals' implosion

November, 22, 2010
Here are seven notes and observations from Week 11 in the AFC North:

  • [+] EnlargeMarvin Lewis
    AP Photo/Thomas E. WitteMarvin Lewis has had a disappointing season in Cincinnati.
    Although stranger things have happened, I would be very surprised if Marvin Lewis gets another contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati (2-8) lost its NFL-high seventh straight game, and I'm told there are no new negotiations behind the scenes between Lewis and the team. It's also starting to show on the field. In giving up 35 straight points in Sunday's embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati looked like a team playing with an exiting coach. The Bengals didn't respond to adversity in the second half and fell apart. As I mentioned weeks ago, it's time to blow up the Bengals. Cincinnati proved that it is so far away from title contention that it will not be a quick fix. It's time to start over.
  • Credit Bengals receiver Terrell Owens for finally telling it like it is. Cincinnati players have been putting a good face on this losing streak for weeks publicly. Just recently Owens said "this is the best 2-6 team I've been on." But as the frustration and losing kept adding up, Owens stopped putting spin on the situation.
"What's crazy is the fact that we're just terrible. That's just plain and simple," Owens said after the Buffalo game. "When I say we, that's me included. Let me look you in the eyes and emphasize, we are terrible. Terrible. I have no answers for you. I have no sound bites for you. All I know is, right now, we are terrible."

  • I have another quick note on the poor officiating in the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, then we will move on because we don't want referees to be the focus of the blog. But look for the NFL to get at least two appeals this week if the league decides to hand out fines. Linebacker James Harrison and safety Ryan Clark were wrongly called for personal fouls on a pair of clean plays against Oakland. The flags usually raise the NFL's antennas. But I expect both Steelers to file an appeal this week if they are penalized -- and both have good cases.
  • Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin made a subtle but effective change on special teams against Oakland. The Steelers replaced veteran Antwaan Randle El as a punt returner, inserting rookie Antonio Brown. Randle El hasn't given Pittsburgh much as a returner this season, but the Steelers like that he's dependable and doesn't fumble. But Brown, a sixth-round pick, has more big-play ability and returned seven punts for 66 yards. He also had a touchdown return called back because of holding.
  • The Baltimore Ravens have struggled with ball security recently, and that's something the coaching staff must re-emphasize down the stretch. Baltimore won convincingly over the Carolina Panthers, but the Ravens fumbled four times, losing two. In their previous game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Ravens put the ball on the ground twice, losing one on Lardarius Webb’s punt return. This isn’t the time of year when you want to get shaky in that department, especially when inclement weather becomes a factor.
  • Just when the AFC North blog started to give the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coaching staff kudos for a string of solid performances, the unit produced another clunker in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. I'm still scratching my head on how the Browns could get only one offensive touchdown after Jacksonville committed six turnovers. Cleveland continued to run tailback Peyton Hillis up the middle for little or no gain when it was clear the Jaguars were gearing up to stop him. But lack of adjustments when things aren’t going well has been an issue for Cleveland all season, and it’s one reason the Browns are 3-7.
  • The good news is Cleveland has a chance to get hot with an easier slate of games. The Browns' next four opponents have a combined record of 10-30, starting with next week’s game against the Carolina Panthers (1-9). With president Mike Holmgren evaluating head coach Eric Mangini's job status, the goal is to win as many games as possible and finish close to .500. Last year the Browns were 5-11, and they need more than five wins this season to show improvement.

The rout is on in San Diego

September, 19, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers are putting it to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Running back Mike Tolbert just scored on a short run to put San Diego up 31-6 with a little more than 13 minutes remaining.

San Diego overcame some early sloppiness and has controlled the game. Barring a complete collapse, San Diego will improve to 1-1 after losing 21-14 at Kansas City in Week 1. Please check back for my Rapid Reaction and postgame coverage.

Halftime notes from Jaguars-Chargers

September, 19, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- Some thoughts at halftime where San Diego leads Jacksonville, 21-6. There have been seven turnovers, four by Jacksonville and three by the Chargers. Sloppy times by the beach.

The Chargers are dominating this game, but they have made enough mistakes to keep it close. However, a San Diego touchdown drive later in the second quarter was a huge blow to Jacksonville.

San Diego’s defense is energized. San Diego has intercepted Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard three times. The Chargers also have one fumble recovery. Right cornerback Antoine Cason, in his second game as a starter, has two interceptions and has forced a fumble.

San Diego tight end Antonio Gates had two touchdown catches in the second quarter. Gates has 62 career touchdown catches and is tied at second with Shannon Sharpe for touchdowns by a tight end.

Former San Diego special teams ace Kassim Osgood added to San Diego’s special teams woes in the early season by blocking a punt by his good friend, Mike Scifres.

Tim Tebow will play Sunday

September, 12, 2010

What we've suspected for weeks is now official: Tim Tebow is the Denver Broncos’ backup quarterback.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Tebow will be Kyle Orton’s backup and Brady Quinn will be the emergency quarterback. Schefter reports Tebow will play in some packages Sunday at Jacksonville, his hometown. Some of those packages may be in the red zone, where Tebow excelled during his decorated college career at Florida.

Denver coach Josh McDaniels has said since the night Denver traded three picks to move up and take Tebow at No. 25 that he would play in some packages.

It became clear during the third preseason game that Tebow was supplanting Quinn as the No. 2. Tebow replaced Orton in both the third and fourth preseason games and he outplayed Quinn during the preseason.

Final Word: AFC North

December, 18, 2009
» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

Larry French/Getty ImagesCoach John Harbaugh's Ravens have the inside track to a wild-card spot.

Ravens in control: The Baltimore Ravens are thanking the Indianapolis Colts this week for giving them possession of the final wild-card spot. Indianapolis’ 35-31 victory Thursday over the Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7) moved Baltimore (7-6) into the final AFC wild-card spot with three games left. They begin their final push Sunday in Baltimore against the Chicago Bears (5-8). The time on the game was moved from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. After that, they have road games against the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7) and Oakland Raiders (4-9).

In memory of Henry: The Cincinnati Bengals are dedicating the remainder of the season to former receiver Chris Henry, who died Thursday following a domestic incident with his fiancée. The Bengals (9-4) will wear No. 15 helmet decals when they take the field this weekend against the San Diego Chargers (10-3). The winner of this game has the inside track to securing the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Unknown replacement: Unless you watched HBO’s "Hard Knocks" series this summer, most fans are not familiar with Bengals safety Tom Nelson. The undrafted rookie was impressive in training camp and will get his first career start against San Diego. Veteran starting safety Chris Crocker re-injured his ankle in last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings and is expected to be sidelined two to three weeks. Nelson draws a tough assignment right away with San Diego, which has an explosive receiving corps and one of the NFL’s top tight ends in Antonio Gates. Nelson has 12 tackles and one interception this season.

Battle of 3-4 defenses: Sunday’s game between the Steelers (6-7) and Green Bay Packers (9-4) will have an AFC North feel as both teams play 3-4 defenses. The Packers, who are playing the scheme for the first time under new defensive coordinator Dom Capers, are actually ranked slightly ahead of Pittsburgh in total defense at No. 2. The Steelers are No. 4. Three of the four teams in the AFC North play a 3-4 scheme, with the only exception being the Bengals.

Going for two: It's been more than a year since the Cleveland Browns (2-11) won two games in a row. But they have a good chance to pull off the feat Sunday against the equally bad Kansas City Chiefs (3-10). The Browns, who beat the rival Steelers last week, last won two straight from Sept. 28-Oct. 13, 2008 (A bye week was in between the two victories). A win at Kansas City could end that lengthy drought and also give first-year coach Eric Mangini his first winning streak with the team.

Posted by's James Walker

Here are the most interesting story lines in the AFC North:

Morning take: The Steelers came into the season with the NFL's toughest schedule, yet enter the bye week at 4-1. It wasn't always pretty, but the results were effective.

Morning take: That mystery writer also was impressed with the depth Pittsburgh has shown the past two weeks, which will serve the Steelers well later in the year.

  • According to Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times, the Baltimore Ravens were highly upset with a late personal foul penalty call on Terrell Suggs that contributed to Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Morning take: In fact, we noticed a pair of shoddily officiated games this weekend involving AFC North teams, with the other being the Steelers-Jaguars contest. The worst part of this particular call was it came at a crucial time of the game.

  • Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer wonders if a 31-22 loss to the Dallas Cowboys counts as a victory of sorts for the Bengals?

Morning take: Only if Cincinnati builds on Sunday's solid showing. If the Bengals lay an egg next week and fall to 0-6, everyone will quickly forget how well the team competed Sunday against one of the NFL's best.

Posted by's James Walker

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Overcoming a perennial nemesis is rarely an easy task, especially on the road. But a resilient Pittsburgh Steelers team found a way Sunday night with a hard-fought, 26-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Despite numerous injuries that stemmed from three consecutive physical contests, a shorthanded Pittsburgh team came into Jacksonville Municipal Stadium with no excuses and grinded out its biggest signature win this season.

The Jaguars, winners of their four previous meetings with Pittsburgh, had the Steelers' number. Jacksonville swept Pittsburgh in two games last season, including a playoff win at Heinz Field.

But on this night, the Steelers had just enough resolve and depth to get over the hump as they head into a much-needed bye week at 4-1.

Here are three things we learned about Pittsburgh in the process:

1. The Steelers are deep

(Read full post)

Posted by's James Walker

Here are the most interesting story lines in the AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap is off to a slow start, catching just three passes in his first three games.

Morning take: Although Heap is not getting his number called often this season, he's not necessarily making the most of his opportunities, either. In games we covered, we witnessed Heap drop a potential touchdown pass and fumble his first reception of the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers backup linebacker Andre Frazier (spine) passed tests this week and might return Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Morning take: It's always a scary sight to see players carted off the field for any reason. It's good that Frazier is quickly on the road to recovery.

In Cincinnati, newly added tailback Cedric Benson and receiver Chris Henry, who is coming off suspension, could be thrown in right away Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

Morning take: Benson and Henry could add something extra to Cincinnati's offense if rust is not an issue. But little-to-no game action should hurt them early.