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AFC West Whispers

Drop-off in play of Chiefs LB Johnson

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By PFW staff

Here are some whispers we've been hearing from around the AFC West:

• Ever since he received his contract extension in early November, the play of Chiefs ILB Derrick Johnson has taken a noticeable drop-off. Johnson is not making the same game-changing plays that he was earlier in the year, as he has just 22 tackles, one sack and one pass defended in the last four games combined. The Chiefs' run defense also has taken a hit lately, as the middle of the "D" has had its share of issues.

• Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas turned heads in training camp with his acrobatic catches, but injuries have prevented the rookie from replicating those plays on game day. We hear Thomas is considering working out with veteran FS Brian Dawkins this offseason in the hope of coming to camp fully healthy and ready to contribute next year. Dawkins is well-known around Denver for working extremely hard in the offseason, according to a daily team observer.

• Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha is still being bothered a foot injury that kept him out of two games in November, but quarterbacks have avoided challenging him, even though he's not at 100 percent. Quarterbacks have consistently targeted receivers being covered by players other than Asomugha, and a team observer said adding better depth at corner should be a priority for the team in the offseason.

• After missing the last two games with injuries in both of his feet, Chargers TE Antonio Gates admitted after Thursday night's victory that his goal is to get healthy for a potential playoff run. That means Gates is unlikely to play in either of the team's two remaining regular-season contests. With rest being the only remedy for his ailments, the league's top-producing tight end will do all he can to be ready in the hope that San Diego can qualify for the postseason.

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