Following are several whispers we've heard recently from around the AFC West:
• While he's provided a spark on offense and as a kickoff returner, the Raiders are not going to expand rookie WR Jacoby Ford's role just yet. Head coach Tom Cable recently said he's not ready to hand Ford the punt-returning duties, and he also indicated that Ford isn't guaranteed to continue starting if the Raiders get their full complement of receivers healthy before the end of the season.
• While the Broncos are yet to release specific information on FS Brian Dawkins' knee injury, we hear it could be something serious. Dawkins injured his knee in the first half of Denver's 36-33 loss to the Rams and did not return to the game. The injury was bad enough that the team immediately ruled Dawkins out for the next game, similar to previous injuries that kept LB Robert Ayers and CB André Goodman out for extended periods.
• Despite reports that 35 percent of the Chargers franchise had been sold to billionaire Phil Anschutz, the team has flatly denied those rumors. Franchise owner Alex Spanos is looking to sell a portion of the club, but no deals have been worked out yet. The idea of Anschutz purchasing a share of the team made those in San Diego nervous, as they believe that he could make a play to move the Chargers to Los Angeles.
• The Chiefs' special teams have been much improved this season, and players are beginning to be rewarded for it. After OLB Andy Studebaker, an impact special-teamer, had been handed a contract extension earlier in the season, LS Thomas Gafford signed an extension on Dec. 1. The 27-year-old has been very consistent with his snaps and has been a solid character, something GM Scott Pioli clearly values.