NFL Nation: Kolby Smith

The Denver Broncos must feel they have long-term problems at running back.

Why else would they sign LenDale White?

White, who Denver announced it inked Wednesday, is facing a four-game NFL suspension. He won’t be able to help Denver until Week 5 at Baltimore, at the earliest.

White wasn’t a hot item on the open market. He had virtually no interest after Seattle cut him and his suspension was disclosed. White was traded from Tennessee to Seattle during the draft weekend, but he was quickly despite being reunited with his coach at USC, Pete Carroll.

The scuttlebutt around the league was if White couldn’t resurrect his career under Carroll, where would he be able to do it? White hopes that answer is in his hometown of Denver.

The Broncos sure hope White has a revival. Denver signed White after starter Knowshon Moreno and backup Correll Buckhalter were hurt. Both are supposed to be back this month, but clearly Denver didn’t like its overall depth. The team cut Kolby Smith to make room for White.

Once White returns from his suspension (assuming he makes the 53-man roster), he will likely be used in short yardage. He is a big back, who can be effective in short runs. White rushed for 2,349 yards (3.7 per carry average) and had 24 touchdowns in four seasons with the Titans. If Moreno and Buckhalter return healthy, White could team with them to make a decent running back crew.

White's signing does not necessarily take Denver out of the Brian Westbrook sweepstakes. Westbrook is a smaller back, who plays a different game than White. If the Broncos decide they want to pursue Westbrook, there will be room for him as well.
The Kansas City Chiefs waived six players Monday, including running back Kolby Smith and quarterback Matt Gutierrez.

The move was made after the team’s mandatory minicamp during the weekend. Clearly, Kansas City didn’t think these players had a chance to make the team and decided it wasn’t worth bringing them to training camp, which starts at the end of July.

The other players cut were defensive back Andre Jones, tight end Leroy Banks and offensive linemen Jermail Porter and Nick Landry.

Gutierrez was overtaken by Tyler Palko as the No. 3 quarterback during the weekend. Gutierrez was on the Chiefs’ roster last season.

Smith was once a promising back for the Chiefs, but injuries derailed his career in Kansas City. With Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones dominating the backfield, the Chiefs had no room for Smith.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

The Kansas City Chiefs just cut a player who was one decent game away from becoming the team’s all-time leading rusher, and it seems like it’s the right move for everybody.

It is time for Larry Johnson to leave Kansas City.
 
 G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
 Larry Johnson was just 75 yards away from breaking Priest Holmes' team rushing record.


Both sides tried to make it work, but the new Kansas City regime did Monday what it probably should have done in the spring. At least everyone knows the Chiefs gave Johnson a chance to finish his career with them.

Now both the Chiefs and Johnson will move on. And they probably won’t miss each other.

Off the field, Johnson remained a distraction, and on it, Johnson, who turns 30 this month, wasn’t giving the young team much. The 1-7 Chiefs clearly weren’t giving Johnson any motivation.

The Chiefs probably have been planning Monday’s move since Oct. 28, when they suspended Johnson for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville after he made gay slurs and questioned the credentials of Kansas City coach Todd Haley. Last year, Johnson was suspended four games by the Chiefs and the NFL after two separate incidents involving women in Kansas City nightclubs.

General manager Scott Pioli and Haley were impressed by Johnson’s work ethic in the spring when he was committed to the team’s offseason program. In July, Johnson, who in the past asked to be traded from Kansas City, said he was re-energized because of Pioli and Haley.

But the losses started piling up for Kansas City in the first half of the season and Johnson was ineffective because of a combination of him wearing down and a porous Kansas City offensive line. He has 358 yards on this season and was averaging 2.71 yards per carry. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Johnson’s per-carry average this season is the fourth worst in NFL history for players with 100 or more carries.

Johnson is clearly no longer the same back he was in 2006, when he set an NFL record with 416 carries. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Johnson’s per-carry average in that special season was 4.7; since it has been 3.7.

Still, despite his decline, Johnson, a No. 1 pick in 2003, was close to becoming the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. He was 75 yards from breaking Priest Holmes’ team record.

Holmes is still revered in Kansas City, while Johnson has been vilified because of his long history of off-field issues. Many Kansas City fans voiced their displeasure about Johnson last week and wanted him to be released. Some fans began a petition to urge the Chiefs not to allow Johnson to break Holmes’ record.

The team listened and it will move on with youngsters Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith. The two didn’t do much Sunday at Jacksonville when they were just temporary Johnson replacements. Now Johnson is in Kansas City’s rearview mirror and Charles and Smith need to step up their game.

If they don’t, Kansas City will be able to live with it. Johnson is no longer a Chief and that appears to be the best scenario for everyone involved.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

On Tuesday, Todd Haley made it known that the Chiefs took Larry Johnson's offensive comments seriously.

As soon as he said it, I knew a suspension was coming.
 Johnson


So, Wednesday night’s announcement by the team that Johnson has been suspended until Nov. 9 for conduct detrimental to the team was no surprise. Johnson will miss the Chiefs’ next game, Nov. 8 at Jacksonville. Kansas City has a bye this Sunday.

Because he was suspended now, Johnson is expected to miss two paychecks. Players are paid for the bye week. So, Johnson stands to lose about $535,000 of his $4.55 million salary he’s earning this season.

Give Kansas City credit for taking this situation seriously. Johnson was punished for making homophobic comments that were directed toward media members Monday. On Sunday night, Johnson used his Twitter account to question Haley's credentials and make a gay slur.

The Chiefs clearly weren’t going to stand for Johnson’s actions. That became clear when they sent him home Tuesday while they pondered his punishment.

It still wouldn’t shock me if Johnson, who is less than 100 yards away from becoming Kansas City’s all-time leading rusher, never plays another down for the Chiefs.

It’s not out of the question for the team to part ways with him. He was given a second chance by the new regime after he had off-field issues last season. He was suspended by the team and the NFL for separate incidents involving women at nightclubs.

Johnson’s off-field problems and his lack of production on the field could prompt the team to part ways with him. He turns 30 next month.

On Tuesday, Haley praised backup running backs Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith, which could be another hint that Johnson’s time is Kansas City is nearing an end.

Around the AFC West

April, 25, 2009
4/25/09
11:55
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Denver

The Eagles called about tight end Tony Scheffler, but a trade is not likely.

My take: Scheffler should be kept. The trade talk came up earlier this offseason because new coach Josh McDaniels' system revolves around three receivers and one tight end. Denver's starting tight end is Daniel Graham, who is a blocking specialist. Scheffler is a field-stretching tight end. Denver has to find a way to work him into the offense. He is a weapon. Keeping him will make this offense more potent.

Kansas City

Larry Johnson's future could be determined this weekend.

My take: It wouldn't be the worst idea for Kansas City to take a running back even if Johnson is in the team's plans. He is 29 and won't be playing forever. The team also has Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith. Another back could be added to the mix regardless of Johnson's future with the team.

Oakland

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting the Raiders are shopping defensive end Derrick Burgess.

My take: Burgess still has some value but I don't think Oakland will get anything more than a mid-round pick for him. Burgess is getting older and was injured often last season. The Raiders, who only have five draft picks, like second-year pass-rusher Trevor Scott.

San Diego

The San Diego Union-Tribune believes the Chargers will draft Tyson Jackson.

My take: San Diego may have to move up from No. 16 to get that done. Kansas City could take Jackson at No. 3. Green Bay (No. 9) and Denver (No. 12) also like the LSU defensive end. He may fit what San Diego does but he may not be available.

AFC West news and notes

November, 3, 2008
11/03/08
11:24
PM ET
Posted by ESPN .com's Bill Williamson

Around the AFC West:

Denver
The word is that weakside linebacker D.J. Williams might be out 3-4 weeks with an MCL injury. More information is expected Tuesday. But Denver put two players -- running backs Michael Pittman and Andre Hall -- on the injured reserve list Monday and likely would have done the same with Williams had it been a more serious injury.

Denver is expected to add a couple of players to the 53-man roster Tuesday morning. It wouldn't be a surprise to see running back P.J. Pope promoted from the practice squad. The team will surely add a running back.

The word is the team is quietly satisfied with the ruling in their favor in the Al Wilson medical grievance.

Kansas City
The Chiefs were looking at running backs as well Monday. It wouldn't be a surprise if they add some players, including a running back as early as Tuesday. Kolby Smith is out for the year after suffering a knee injury Sunday.

Meanwhile, it looks like standout linebacker Derrick Johnson may not play Sunday at San Diego.

Oakland
Rookie tailback Darren McFadden is still day-to-day with a turf toe injury that kept him out the last two games. This thing may drag out longer.

The name of former Oakland coach Lane Kiffin has been connected to the pending coaching opening at Tennessee as well as at Washington and Clemson. The rumblings around the league is that Kiffin, despite a 5-15 record, is being helped by the fact that Oakland has nosedived after he was fired. Even though Oakland was 1-3 under Kiffin, they were competing hard. Under interim head coach Tom Cable, the Raiders are 1-3 and have been outscored 87-13 in their losses under Cable.

San Diego
Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie continued to rest his hip Monday in the Charegrs' first post-bye practice.

 
  Al Bello/Getty Images
  Tyler Thigpen's Chiefs may have lost to the Jets Sunday, but the quarterback showed impressive poise in his second start for Kansas City this season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brett Favre's latest magic show was already complete. Yet another chapter in Favre's storied comeback had already been published.

It was in the books. Favre doesn't play well -- until he has to. Then, his team wins the game. Done deal.

But Tyler Thigpen kept coming. The Kansas City Chiefs' No. 4 was pressing the universe's No. 4. Scrambling. Command of the offense. Laser throws. Last-minute poise. Yes, Thigpen looked familiar out there.

On a day Favre had his most exciting win for the Jets, it was Thigpen who kept coming off his stool and trying to make Favre work harder. In the end, the Chiefs' and Thigpen's counters weren't enough. Thigpen's dreams expired at the Jets' 31-yard line with 21 seconds to go.

Officially, it was Favre's day as the Jets beat the Chiefs 28-24. Favre made up for three grotesque interceptions by hitting Laveranues Coles for a 15-yard touchdown with exactly a minute to go in the game. That's how the football world will remember this one.

But in Kansas City, it could have a greater significance. It could be remembered as the day Thigpen showed he does have what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. It could be remembered as the day the Chiefs stood up and fought, and showed the league they won't take this youth movement lightly, even if they did fall to 1-6.

In spite of the heartbreak, Sunday's game was a lot more tolerable for the Chiefs than their past two games, in which they were beaten by a total of 68-10.

And Thigpen was a big reason why things evened out a bit this week.

"Tyler played outstanding," Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "He played a lot better than I thought he was going to play. I know he surprised everybody. I don't care what anybody said, if they thought he was going to go out there and play the way he did then they're lying."

Thigpen was good for four quarters in his second NFL start. He completed 25 of 36 passes for 280 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and he wasn't intercepted. Favre completed 28 of 40 passes for 290 yards. He threw two touchdown passes but he was intercepted three times.

Thigpen set the tone by completing his first 10 passes. The Chiefs set the tone for Thigpen by operating out of the no-huddle offense, which he ran in college at Coastal Carolina, for much of the game. Thigpen, a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings last year, was much better than in his previous start when he threw three interceptions.

Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said he thought Thigpen would play better because he displayed excellent confidence this week in practice. Thigpen became the starter this week after season-ending injuries to quarterbacks Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard. Thigpen said knowing the job is his led to his comfort level.

"The job has been handed to me to go and play football," Thigpen said. "I'm going to take advantage of it."

(Read full post)

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