NFL Nation: Nico Johnson

CINCINNATI -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 33-23 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
  • Hill holds court: Jeremy Hill was a popular interview subject Sunday afternoon. For nearly 45 minutes, the rookie running back chatted with various reporters about his career day. He rushed 24 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Giovani Bernard, who sat because of a pair of injuries. Hill was still dressed, shoulder pads and all, nearly the whole time. It was just before a radio interview that he finally took off his pads and jersey. Most of the time, Hill stood directly in front of Bernard's locker (which is next to his). Bernard tried to wait him out to give his congratulations in person but eventually took off. (He'll see him Monday, anyway.) While Hill chatted with reporters, some players shouted their support as they walked behind cameras or leaned between the mass of bodies to offer up fist bumps. Cornerback Adam Jones was one of those who butted in for a bump.
  • Sanu on Hill's dance: Receiver Mohamed Sanu has been known to bust a move or two when he scores. In the preseason, he unveiled his version of the "Shmoney" dance, one made popular by rapper Bobby Shmurda. After Hill scored the first of his two touchdowns, he did his version of that dance. So what did Sanu think about Hill's rendition? "Have you seen it?" Sanu asked, smiling. "It's pretty awesome." Hill, who earlier this season did Ickey Woods' "Ickey Shuffle," also pulled off the "Dougie" dance after he scored his second touchdown.
  • Special-teams mentality: Nico Johnson was signed as a free agent Oct. 15, days before the Bengals were down two linebackers in their starting rotation. Still, he didn't think he'd see the field as a starter for a long while. He had to digest the Bengals' playbook first. The Bengals thought he was ready and started him Sunday. "My mindset was special teams, special teams, special teams," Johnson said. "That was my mindset that I would come in and make my effect on special teams and make the best out of a great opportunity." He had one tackle in place of Rey Maualuga.
  • Jags a 'good team': Veteran Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry thinks the 1-8 Jaguars are on the cusp of greatness. "That's a good team," he said. "I don't care what nobody says. They're young, and when they find out how to win, people are going to have to deal with them. Mark my words."
INDIANAPOLIS -- We've known for a week that Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green would miss the Cincinnati Bengals' game this week at Indianapolis, but it is now official.

The fourth-year wideout was on Cincinnati's list of inactives for the Bengals' 1 p.m. ET game Sunday against the Colts. It will be the second straight game Green has missed. He also missed all but six plays of the Bengals' Week 2 game against the Falcons.

Green
In Green's place will be Mohamed Sanu, the third-year receiver who has caught 13 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns as Green's replacement so far this season. Overall, Sanu has caught a team-high 27 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns this season. He's expected to continue to be the Bengals' top receiving threat without the superstar Green, who has been trying to battle through a toe injury since the season opener.

Green initially picked up the injury to his right big toe during the first quarter of the Bengals' Week 1 win over the Ravens. He fought through the injury and finished the game before shutting it down just six plays into the next contest.

He's hopeful to return next week when the Bengals host the Ravens.

Along with Green, the Bengals also are without linebackers Rey Maualuga and Emmanuel Lamur. They had been expected to sit this week after suffering injuries in the fourth quarter of last week's tie with the Panthers. Maualuga has a serious left hamstring injury that coach Marvin Lewis anticipates will keep him out a few weeks. Lamur's shoulder issue doesn't appear to be as serious, and the team is hoping he'll return next week.

Maualuga will be replaced by second-year player Jayson DiManche, and Lamur will be replaced by Vincent Rey.

While Green, Maualuga and Lamur were deactivated, the two players who were signed this week to help absorb their losses were activated. Receiver Greg Little and linebacker Nico Johnson were part of the 46-man gameday roster, but neither is expected to play. They simply haven't had enough time to digest their respective playbooks. Little and Johnson will only see action if the Bengals are placed into emergency scenarios that call upon one or both having to play.

Here is the full list of inactives for Sunday's game:

Bengals inactives
WR A.J. Green
LB Rey Maualuga
LB Emmanuel Lamur
DT Brandon Thompson
CB Chris Lewis-Harris
OT Tanner Hawkinson
DE Will Clarke

Colts inactives
CB Darius Butler
LB Victor Butler
OG Lance Louis
OL Khaled Holmes
OT Jamon Meredith
DT Kelcy Quarles
DT Arthur Jones
Inside linebacker Joe Mays signed a two-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs this week, but the details of the contract make it evident Mays will need to play very well in 2014 in order to stick around in 2015.

Mays' contract is worth $6 million. His cap number is $2 million this year, a relatively team-friendly number for a starting inside linebacker who will probably come out of the lineup on passing downs.

But his cap number doubles to $4 million in 2015. Included is a clause that will make $1 million of his 2015 salary guaranteed if he's still with the Chiefs by April 15 of next year. The Chiefs can walk away from his contract before that date and it won't cost them a nickel.

Until then Mays, who began his career playing for Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008, looks to be a starting inside linebacker alongside Derrick Johnson. The Chiefs also have Nico Johnson, a fourth-round draft pick last season. But the Chiefs obviously aren't comfortable with the idea of Nico Johnson starting. If they were, they wouldn't have signed Mays.

Mays had some options, including re-signing with the Houston Texans. He spent last season with Houston after three with the Denver Broncos and two with Reid and the Eagles.

"The only thing they told me is they're going to bring me in to compete,'' Mays said today. "I'll let everythng else play out, just come in there and do what I need to do. Hopefully I'll carve out a role for myself.''

Moving day for many Chiefs?

March, 11, 2014
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The free-agent signing period begins Tuesday, and as of now the Chiefs have yet to re-sign any of their significant free agents. The parade appears to be lining up at the exit door. Left tackle Branden Albert is at the front, as he reportedly has already agreed on a contract with the Miami Dolphins. Receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, offensive linemen Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Akeem Jordan could be right behind him.

The Chiefs have attempted to re-sign defensive end Tyson Jackson, and that could still happen. But the Chiefs didn't appear confident in that happening. They had arranged a free-agent meeting with defensive end Red Bryant before he signed last week with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Free safety Kendrick Lewis has been a longtime starter and is also a potential unrestricted free agent. But the Chiefs may be ready to move on from him.

The Chiefs have some money to spend in free agency and draft picks to use on potential replacements. In some cases they've already prepared for the eventuality of losing some of these free agents. They drafted tackle Eric Fisher in the first round last year knowing this day with Albert would probably come this year. They signed Weston Dressler of the Canadian Football League hoping he could be the next McCluster. Last year they drafted linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive back Sanders Commings, and they are possible replacements for Jordan and Lewis.

That doesn't mean this isn't an meaningful day for the Chiefs. With the exception of Jordan and Schwartz, who were signed to one-year, free-agent contracts last year, these players didn't join the Chiefs as stopgap players but as those they could build around. Albert and Jackson are former first-round draft picks. McCluster was drafted in the second round, Asamoah in the third, Lewis in the fifth.

More importantly, many should be heading into their prime seasons. Albert will turn 30 in November but plays a position where he could retain his skills for the life of the new contract he will sign. Jackson is 27; McCluster, Asamoah and Lewis are 25.

If they're all out the door at a single time, that's a hefty blow to the Chiefs. They made plenty of progress in the past year, going from two wins in 2012 to 11 victories and the playoffs in 2013. Continuing on that track will be difficult enough but perhaps impossible if they lose this entire group of players.

If the Chiefs fall back to the pack in 2014, they may look back on this day as a big reason why.

Free-agent report: LB Akeem Jordan

February, 26, 2014
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Our look at potential Kansas City Chiefs free agents moves on to one of their starting inside linebackers.

Jordan
LB Akeem Jordan

Seven NFL seasons, one with the Chiefs. Will be 29 when next season begins.

Chiefs career: He signed with the Chiefs last year to fill one of the inside spots in their regular defense, and Jordan didn’t disappoint. He was a part-time player, in the lineup mostly on running downs. Jordan was by no means a star but did what he was asked to do on a team where he was surrounded by talented players. Jordan also was one of the Chiefs’ best special-teams players.

Argument for keeping Jordan: Without paying big money, the Chiefs will find it difficult to find a player who is under 30, has his experience and better fits their defensive scheme. Don’t overlook his special-teams ability, which makes him more valuable.

Argument for letting Jordan go: The Chiefs drafted Nico Johnson in the fourth round last year to eventually take over in this spot. The Chiefs need to give Johnson the chance to win the job. From a financial standpoint, he’s their best option. If he proves to be a liability, the Chiefs can make a move for a veteran later.

What should happen: The decision on Jordan seems more a choice on Johnson. What the Chiefs do with Jordan reflects their thinking on Johnson. The Chiefs should give Johnson his shot if they believe he’s ready. If not, then they should re-sign Jordan.

Chiefs returning to full health

December, 18, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The four regulars who missed last week's game for the Kansas City Chiefs because of injuries returned to practice in some form Wednesday. At least one of them appears to have a good chance of playing Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium.

Tight end Anthony Fasano, who missed the last two games because of a concussion, was listed as a full practice participant on the Chiefs' injury report. Also listed as a full participant was right tackle Eric Fisher, who left last week's game in Oakland early because of a shoulder injury.

Three players were listed as limited participants: wide receiver Dexter McCluster (ankle), linebacker Justin Houston (elbow) and left tackle Branden Albert (knee). None of the three played against the Raiders. Albert's participation was limited to working on the scout team.

Four other players were listed as full practice participants: tight end Sean McGrath (knee), linebackers James-Michael Johnson and Nico Johnson (ankle) and defensive back Ron Parker (shoulder).

Wednesday's Chiefs practice report

September, 18, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs have issued their final injury report before Thursday night's game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Tight end Anthony Fasano (ankle) did not practice and is listed as doubtful to play in the game. Cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee) was listed as a limited practice participant, and his game availability was questionable.

Two other starters, tackle Branden Albert (shoulder) and defensive end Mike DeVito (neck), were full practice participants and listed as probable to play against the Eagles.

With a second tight end, Travis Kelce, hobbling on a sore knee, limited in practice and listed as questionable, the Chiefs are down to Sean McGrath and Kevin Brock as healthy players at the position. McGrath joined the Chiefs off waivers from Seattle at the start of the regular season while Brock re-signed only this week. He went to camp with the Chiefs but was released before the regular season started.

McGrath has two receptions for 31 yards.

Three backup linebackers were full practice participants and listed as probable: Nico Johnson (ankle), Dezman Moses (toe) and James-Michael Johnson (neck).

Tuesday's Chiefs practice report

September, 17, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Left tackle Branden Albert, who has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, returned to full practice duty, increasing the likelihood that he will be able to play Thursday night against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Among the other starters on the injury report, tight end Anthony Fasano (ankle) did not practice, cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee) was listed as a limited practice participant and defensive end Mike DeVito (neck) was listed as a full participant.

Among the other players on the injury report, tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was listed as a limited particpant while linebackers Nico Johnson (ankle), Dezman Moses (toe) and James-Michael Johnson (neck) were listed as full participants.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (quad) went through a full practice session and will play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs officially listed Charles on their injury report as probable for Sunday's game.

Nickelback Dunta Robinson again missed practice after being excused for personal reasons. He was listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was also listed as questionable. He was a limited practice participant.

The five other players on the injury report were full practice participants and are listed as probable for Sunday's game: offensive linemen Jon Asamoah (calf) and Donald Stephenson (shoulder), linebackers Nico Johnson (ankle) and Dezman Moses (toe) and safety Husain Abdullah (foot).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Running back Jamaal Charles returned to practice today, but only on a limited basis. Charles, who has a bruised thigh, is still on track to play Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs welcome the Dallas Cowboys to Arrowhead Stadium.

Charles
But tight end Travis Kelce didn't practice because of soreness in his knee. That raises doubts about his ability to be ready for the Cowboys game.

Nickel back Dunta Robinson was again absent from practice for personal reasons.

The other players on the Chiefs' injury report were listed as full practice participants: offensive linemen Jon Asamoah (calf) and Donald Stephenson (shoulder), linebackers Nico Johnson (ankle) and Dezman Moses (toe) and safety Husain Abdullah (foot).

Today's Chiefs practice report

September, 6, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs starting right guard Jon Asamoah (calf) practiced for the first time in almost two weeks on Friday, keeping alive the possibility he could play Sunday against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Asamoah was listed on the injury report as a limited practice participant and as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Otherwise, only rookie linebacker Nico Johnson (ankle) is listed as out for Sunday’s game. Tight end Travis Kelce (knee), safety Husain Abdullah (foot) and defensive lineman Allen Bailey (absent after the death of his father) are listed as questionable.

Tackles Eric Fisher (shoulder) and Donald Stephenson (shoulder), cornerback Sean Smith (neck), safety Quintin Demps (hamstring), and linebackers Dezman Moses (toe) and James-Michael Johnson (groin) were listed as probable.

Chiefs rookie update: Defense

September, 3, 2013
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Nico Johnson Peter Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Chiefs' Nico Johnson was making a hefty impact before suffering an ankle injury.
Earlier I posted some thoughts on the progress of the Chiefs offensive rookies and where I thought they fit in as the regular season begins. Here, I talk about the five defensive rookies:

  • Nico Johnson, fourth round, inside linebacker. Johnson was playing well and appeared on track to become a starter at some point this season. He showed some nice instinct and the ability to shed blocks and make tackles in the running game. Then he suffered a high ankle sprain. He hasn’t played or practiced since. His shouldn’t be an extended absence but any practice time missed by a rookie is a lot of time. At this point, it’s reasonable to count on Johnson for little more than special-teams help for the first half of the season. Longer term, he should have a spot as the starter at the inside position next to Derrick Johnson.
  • Mike Catapano, defensive end, seventh round. Catapano was moved recently back to his more natural position as a defensive end. The Chiefs had played him at linebacker since drafting him.Catapano is undersized at 270 pounds so his main contributions as a rookie should come on special teams. But the Chiefs aren’t deep on the defensive line, so an injury could force him into the playing rotation. Catapano has showed some pass-rush skills. He was with the first team early this week as a pass-rusher in the nickel defense in place of Allen Bailey, who missed practice because of the death of his father.
  • Bradley McDougald, safety, undrafted. McDougald won his roster spot, beating out veteran Tysyn Hartman, with solid all-around play. Hartman may have been better against the run but McDougald was better in pass coverage. As the fifth safety, he won’t play on defense except in case of injuries ahead of him.McDougald’s roster spot will be in jeopardy when the Chiefs activate Sanders Commings off injured reserve. A fifth-round draft pick, Commings was playing a lot in the nickel defense during offseason practice. He broke his collarbone in the first practice at training camp and hasn’t played or practiced since. He was placed on IR Tuesday.
  • Josh Martin, undrafted, linebacker. Martin came to the Chiefs as the ultimate long shot. He played in college at an Ivy League school, Columbia, and plays a position inhabited in Kansas City by three Pro Bowl players. But Martin made an impact in training camp. He displayed nice instincts in the running game and pass-rush skills, as well. He showed enough of both the Chiefs decided to keep him on their active roster as a developmental player.Martin probably won’t play as a rookie unless it’s on special teams. But he’s already pulled the ultimate upset by making it this far.
  • Marcus Cooper, cornerback, waivers from San Francisco. Cooper was drafted by the 49ers this year in the seventh round but was released over the weekend. Cooper was mostly a bystander during his only practice so far with the Chiefs after arriving on Sunday night. But he will get a look to be the fourth cornerback. The Chiefs went through several candidates unsuccessfully for that fourth cornerback spot and their failure to find one was a big reason they claimed Cooper.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs and Andy Reid needed each other.

A year ago, as the Chiefs were toiling through their summer preparations, this pairing seemed more than unlikely. It appeared implausible.

The Chiefs were embarking on the Romeo Crennel era. The franchise was focused on salvaging the Scott Pioli leadership by having one of his former New England colleagues take over the coach's headset on a full-time basis after he had guided the team following Todd Haley's dismissal in December 2011. There were no thoughts of Crennel being a temporary caretaker for one of the biggest coaching names in the game. Reid was entering his 14th season in Philadelphia.

But 2012 ended up being an awful year for the Chiefs and for Reid. Change was necessary for both.

When Reid was let go by the Eagles, Kansas City owner Clark Hunt acted swiftly, turning from Pioli and Crennel to Reid. It was a bold move from the Heartland, where the Chiefs usually stay out of the national spotlight.

Hiring Reid was bold. And while technically neither Reid nor his new team has accomplished anything just yet, the fit seems right. Reid is resplendent in red. The Chiefs’ players are energized by the top-notch coaching and energy Reid has brought.

“I don’t look to the past and we can’t look to the future yet; all we got is right now,” Reid said. “And the 'right now' is pretty good. … I really like where we are and what these guys are doing.”

While it is just August, the Chiefs look nothing like the 2-14 team they were in 2012. Most teams that earn the No. 1 overall draft pick look like it the following training camp. Instead, the Chiefs look like a complete team with few holes, one that is ready to make a big move.

“We don’t even talk about 2-14 anymore,” said safety Eric Berry, one of six Pro Bowl players from what was, despite the record, a talented 2012 outfit. “We are all focused on getting better and getting coached by Coach Reid and his staff. … We can’t wait to get out here every day to see how we can get better. Everybody feels that way. We’re all so happy right now.”

THREE HOT TOPICS

[+] EnlargeAlex Smith
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesAlex Smith's smooth transition at quarterback is just one reason behind the Chiefs' bright outlook.
1. The quarterback: Thus far, the transition to Alex Smith has been a success in Kansas City. Of course, we won’t find out anything tangible until we see if he can make a difference in the regular season. But so far, Smith has taken to Reid’s coaching and shown he is the leader of this team. He has been good in training camp, and he was excellent in the first preseason game. If Smith can be the smart, mistake-free player he was in his best San Francisco days, the Chiefs can be a real contender. This team has been screaming for solid quarterback play, and it may be about to get it.

“He’s a smart guy,” Reid said of his quarterback. “He gets it. He makes it easy. He doesn’t run out of gigabytes.”

2. Finding a No. 2 receiver: There aren’t a lot of issues with this roster, but finding a solid No. 2 receiver behind star Dwayne Bowe is a focal point of this camp. Free-agent pickup Donnie Avery will likely be the guy, and he has shown he can be a capable NFL player. He can get open. The team would like to see 2011 first-round pick Jon Baldwin finally develop. He has big ability but has failed to show the consistency to be a top-of-the rotation player. The Chiefs have a varied offense, so this will not be a huge problem, but it would be beneficial if Bowe had some legitimate help opposite of him.

3. Dontari Poe: If training camp is any indication, Poe has a chance to be among the breakout players in the NFL this season. The No. 11 overall pick of the 2012 draft has been terrific. He has taken to the new coaching. The light has come on. The super-athletic Poe is getting the playbook and has been dominant at times. Nose tackle sets the tone for the defense, and it seems Poe is up to the task. To his credit, Poe made strides late in his rookie season and seems to have carried it over to his second training camp.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

The Chiefs' roster is loaded. There are not a lot of holes. Sure, the Chiefs could use a deeper group of receivers, a deeper defensive line and a few odds and ends here and there. But in today’s NFL, that is not a deep list of concerns. Add a top coach like Reid, a capable quarterback like Smith and several fine free-agent additions to a roster that featured six Pro Bowl players, and there is a lot to like about this team. This is not your average club trying to rebound from 2-14.

REASON FOR PESSIMISM

There isn’t much not to like here. The worst thing Kansas City has going for it is simply rebuilding from a 2-14 season. Just how many wins can a 2-14 team expect in the first year of a new regime? The Chiefs will be much better. But what does that mean? A 7-9 season in Kansas City would signify great progress. But if the Chiefs want to make a run at the playoffs, they likely will have to go 9-7 or better. A seven-win improvement is never an easy task in the NFL.

OBSERVATION DECK
    [+] EnlargeJamaal Charles
    AP Photo/Gerald HerbertJamaal Charles' role in the offense does not figure to be diminished considering he touched the ball eight times and scored a TD on the Chiefs' first drive of the preseason.

  • The Chiefs like their offensive line. They think they have a lot of depth. Jeff Allen, Geoff Schwartz and Donald Stephenson give the team a lot of options.
  • The Chiefs have no remorse over using the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft on right tackle Eric Fisher. He is a natural talent who works hard and fits in with his teammates. He is a hard-hat player who just happened to be the top pick in the draft.
  • The coaching staff is pleased with the way star running back Jamaal Charles has adapted to the offense. He has embraced the chance to catch more balls out of the backfield. For anyone who thought Charles’ role would be diminished because of Reid’s arrival, just look at the New Orleans game last week. Charles touched the ball on eight of the 14 plays the Chiefs’ first-team offense was on the field.
  • Players love the scheme of new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. It is aggressive and player-friendly.
  • One of the strengths of this team going into camp was the defensive backfield. It continues to be. This is a deep, talented unit.
  • One young player to keep an eye is undrafted rookie receiver Rico Richardson. He is catching everything that comes his way. He's a long shot, but there could be room for him.
  • Reid is pleased with the addition of spread game analyst Brad Childress and consultant Chris Ault. They are focusing on the pistol offense and working with both the offense and defense in installing it.
  • The Chiefs’ special teams look good. The return game was fantastic against New Orleans.
  • Berry came on strong at the end of last season after missing virtually all of the 2011 season with a torn ACL, and he looks to be in top form this camp. Expect a brilliant season from this young star.
  • The team likes the work of fullback Anthony Sherman, who was acquired in a deal with Arizona for cornerback Javier Arenas. Sherman will be a part of the offense.
  • Fourth-round pick Nico Johnson continues to push Akeem Jordan at inside linebacker. The instinctive, bright Johnson has been a camp standout.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Nico Johnson knows the opportunity that is in front of him.

He also knows no one is going to hand him a starting job in the NFL. That’s why he has adopted this mantra: “I have to earn my keep.”

The Kansas City rookie inside linebacker used the phrase four times in a 10-minute interview this week.

“That’s what I’m here for, to show the team how I can help them,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to get anything for free … I know the opportunity I have. I know a lot of guys in my position don’t get that opportunity.”

Johnson is currently running behind Akeem Jordan for a starting job. But the Alabama rookie has impressed the Chiefs’ coaching staff as soon as the offseason session began. It wouldn’t be a shock at all if Johnson becomes a starter early in his career.

Johnson said he has been taking advantage of being around players like Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson. The rookie said he literally learns something new from the veterans every day. Tuesday’s lesson was a hand-work session with Hali.

“I watch every move those guys make,” Johnson said. “Before the preseason game last week, I watched how they stretched and how they warmed up. Any detail I can get from them, I can.”

Johnson was known as a selfless leader at Alabama and his instincts and intelligence have impressed coaches and teammates. The game is clearly not too big for the back-to-back national champion.

Johnson isn’t looking just to contribute as a rookie. He wants to become a complete player.

“At Alabama, I was known just as a run-stopper,” Johnson said. “I want to show I can play in pass coverage as well. I’m learning that from [Derrick Johnson]. … I’m just doing everything I can to earn my keep.”
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

One move each AFC West team needed to make but might regret:

Denver: Letting Elvis Dumervil leave. The Dumervil fiasco was the only real bummer for Denver in the offseason. The Broncos had a tremendous free agency and appear to have added some nice pieces in the draft, but the Dumervil departure looms as a potential issue. We all know the backstory. Denver and Dumervil agreed to a restructured contract, but there was a missed deadline. He ended up in Baltimore. Dumervil was a key complement to star pass-rusher Von Miller. Denver thinks it can give Miller the necessary pass-rush help by committee, led by former Charger Shaun Phillips. But if Phillips and crew can’t replicate Dumervil’s impact, it will hurt the Broncos.

Kansas City: Not signing Desmond Bishop. The Chiefs are another team that did well in the offseason. They added a strong coach in Andy Reid and a strong general manager in John Dorsey and upgraded at quarterback with the addition of Alex Smith. But there is potential for the team to regret the Bishop miss. He chose Minnesota over Kansas City last month after being cut by the Packers. Bishop had a relationship with Dorsey from their Green Bay days, and the Chiefs could have used Bishop’s veteran presence as a 3-4 inside linebacker. The Chiefs are preparing to use fourth-round pick Nico Johnson as a starter. He looked good in the offseason, but he simply can’t match Bishop’s experience. I don’t foresee Johnson being a problem for the Chiefs, but if he is not ready, Kansas City may wish it made a bigger push for Bishop.

Oakland: Not adding a reliable pass-rusher. Oakland was challenged this offseason. It was strapped by salary-cap issues again. It had to cut several players and saw a lot of talented free agents leave. General manager Reggie McKenzie did his best to replenish the roster. Still, there are holes, starting at pass-rusher. The Raiders were badly lacking in that area last year, and no reliable help was added. Oakland hopes an improved secondary and creative schemes will generate a pass-rush burst. Again, Oakland had restrictions in free agency, but it might regret not taking a pass-rusher in the first round of the draft.

San Diego: Not adding a top left tackle. Like Oakland at pass-rusher, San Diego didn’t have a lot of options. It didn’t have a lot of cap room to play with, and the rookie pool at left tackle dried up quickly in the draft. The top three left tackle prospects went in the first four picks of the draft. So San Diego didn’t really have a lot of chances to grab a left tackle. However, it is a premium position, and sometimes you have to do what it takes to fill a problem at a premium position. San Diego finally settled on Max Starks at left tackle. He is decent but not great. He is a short-term answer. The Chargers still have no idea whom their left tackle of the future will be. If Starks fails or gets hurt, it will have a major effect on quarterback Philip Rivers. If that happens, we will all be pointing to San Diego’s inability to get a clear-cut answer at left tackle.

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