Following are several whispers we've been hearing from around the AFC West:
• Chargers RB Ryan Mathews was active in Week 13 but couldn't get on the field, and we hear the reason for that is his lack of progress in pass protection. The 2010 first-round pick has missed time with an ankle injury this season, and it has caused him to fall behind in learning third-down packages, which usually call for him to block. Head coach Norv Turner is confident in Mathews' abilities, but he apparently doesn't have enough faith in the back right now to trust him to keep Philip Rivers clean.
• With QB Matt Cassel out for one game and possibly more after undergoing an appendectomy, the Chiefs will turn to Brodie Croyle under center. Kansas City has prepared for this moment, though, as Croyle has worked with the first team at times in practice in case a situation like this popped up. The Chiefs consistently call Croyle one of the better players on the team and are confident that he'll be able to run the offense in Cassel's absence.
• The Broncos organization has said it will be looking for a strong, independent voice to run its personnel department moving forward, and we hear that person could be Hall of Famer John Elway. The team has learned its lesson after giving former coaches Josh McDaniels and Mike Shanahan too much power, and it will look to add a singular voice to make decisions on roster moves. Elway has been working with the team as a consultant and wants to see the organization be successful once again.