AFC West training-camp reports

Posted July 19, 2012 @ 11:12 a.m.
Posted By PFW staff

DENVER BRONCOS

Site: Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Center, Englewood, Colo.

Report date: July 25 (rookies and veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: S Mike Adams, DT Justin Bannan, WR Andre Caldwell, TE Joel Dreessen, CB Drayton Florence, QB Caleb Hanie, QB Peyton Manning, CB Tracy Porter, WR Brandon Stokley, TE Jacob Tamme.

Key veteran departures: DT Brodrick Bunkley, S Brian Dawkins, TE Daniel Fells, CB André Goodman, OLB Mario Haggan, DE Ryan McBean, QB Brady Quinn, WR Eddie Royal, QB Tim Tebow.

Juiciest story lines: Even without Tim Tebow, there will be plenty of attention in Denver this summer. Peyton Manning will make his return to the gridiron in 2012 in a Broncos jersey, and his return from injury will be heavily scrutinized over the coming months. His health, performance and ability to return to the form we saw from the future Hall of Famer is the reason the Broncos have such high expectations. On defense, the Broncos added CBs Tracy Porter and Drayton Florence, along with coordinator Jack Del Rio to improve that side of the ball.

Burning questions: Can Manning stay healthy and throw like his old self? ... Who will step up at wide receiver after Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker? ... What will Jack Del Rio’s impact be on the defense? ... How will second-round pick Brock Osweiler, presumably the heir to Manning, play in his first NFL preseason? ... Can RB Knowshon Moreno stay healthy and make an impact? ... Who will win the starting jobs at defensive tackle?

Fearless prediction: Rookie RB Ronnie Hillman will be one of the more impressive players in Broncos camp, earning him a larger part in the offense and taking carries away from Willis McGahee.

Fantasy nugget: Manning is going to make one, or both, of his tight ends very productive. Most likely, that will be TE Jacob Tamme, who had 631 receiving yards and four touchdowns with Manning in Indianapolis in 2010. Don't get too excited about Tamme's potential as a No. 1 tight end in fantasy. Joel Dreessen was a touchdown vulture in Houston (10 combined TDs in his last two seasons). Keep an eye on the preseason to see how Manning uses his tight ends before reaching for Tamme.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Site: Missouri Western State Univeresity, St. Joseph, Mo.

Report date: July 26 (rookies and veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: TE Kevin Boss, S Abram Elam, RB Peyton Hillis, QB Brady Quinn, DE Ropati Pitoitua, CB Stanford Routt, OT Eric Winston.

Key veteran departures: CB Brandon Carr, DE Wallace Gilberry, FB Le’Ron McClain, QB Kyle Orton, TE Leonard Pope, OT Barry Richardson, LB Demorrio Williams.

Juiciest story lines: Romeo Crennel entering his first training camp as the Chiefs’ head coach will be monitored closely, along with the offense under new coordinator Brian Daboll. The Chiefs’ 2011 season was ruined because of injuries to Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Matt Cassel — their health will be a focal point. All eyes may be on the Broncos, but the Chiefs are considered a sleeper to win the AFC West, and they could get more (or less) respect based on camp performances.

Burning questions: Who wins the backup quarterback job, Brady Quinn or Ricky Stanzi? ... When will Charles and Moeaki return to full health after 2011 ACL injuries? ... How will first-round NT Dontari Poe perform in his first NFL camp? ... How will newcomers Peyton Hillis, Eric Winston and Stanford Routt impact the Chiefs?

Fearless prediction: The new surroundings in Kansas City will be just what the doctor ordered for RB Peyton Hillis to show off the skills that made him a productive back in 2010. Paired with Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs will return to having one of the league’s top-five rushing attacks.

Fantasy nugget: It will be dificult to predict how Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis will share carries, with so much hinging on Charles' health. But owners can be confident in selecting Hillis knowing he will get touchdowns. In his breakout 2010 campaign, Hillis had 13 total touchdowns (11 rushing, two receiving). In that same season, when Charles rushed for 1,467 yards, he found the endzone on the ground only five times.

 

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Site: Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, Calif.

Report date: July 29 (rookies and veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: CB Ron Bartell, OG Mike Brisiel, RB Mike Goodson, QB Matt Leinart, FB Owen Scmitt, CB Shawntae Spencer, DE Dave Tollefson, OLB Philip Wheeler.

Key veteran departures: TE Kevin Boss, RB Michael Bush, QB Jason Campbell, OLB Quentin Groves, DT John Henderson, CB Stanford Routt, C Samson Satele, WR Chaz Schilens, OLB Kamerion Wimbley.

Juiciest story lines: GM Reggie McKenzie is the new sherrif in town, helping usher in the post-Al Davis era of Raiders football. He made his presence known by cutting multiple veterans, and seeing how the Raiders replace players like Kamerion Wimbley and Stanford Routt will be closely monitored. This is Dennis Allen’s first go-around as an NFL head coach, the team’s third coach in three years. QB Carson Palmer is in the midst of his first full camp with the Raiders, and the passing game with young, fast receivers could see a boost in 2012.

Burning questions: Can Darren McFadden remain healthy through the preseason and into the regular season? ... Who steps up as the team’s No. 2 back? ...  How will the cornerback situation sort itself out, with a pair of newcomers in Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer and youngsters in DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa? ... How will the new defense look under Dennis Allen?

Fearless prediction: Rookie WR Juron Criner will continue to wow observers this summer, pushing Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy and Denarius Moore for snaps opposite Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Fantasy nugget: Fantasy owners need to watch Oakland's backfield closely to see who emerges as a No. 2 back to Darren McFadden. How will carries be split between Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones? Will a veteran, like Cedric Benson come in? Not only is it important because of McFadden's health, but the Raiders' top back hasn't had a nose for the endzone, deferring those carries in past years to Michael Bush.

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Site: Chargers Park, San Diego, Calif.

Report dates: July 22 (rookies), July 25 (veterans).

Key veteran arrivals: S Atari Bigby, RB Ronnie Brown, OLB Jarret Johnson, FB Le’Ron McClain, WR Robert Meachem, WR Eddie Royal, QB Charlie Whitehurst, LB Demorrio Williams.

Key veteran departures: OLB Everette Brown, S Steve Gregory, CB Dante Hughes, WR Vincent Jackson, OLB Travis LaBoy, RB Mike Tolbert, QB Billy Volek.

Juiciest story lines: To the chagrin of many Chargers fans, Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith are back after back-to-back seasons of missing the playoffs — a first in San Diego since 2002-03. Expectations are low, but the tools are there. There will be no Vincent Jackson drama this summer, just a focus on how San Diego replaces his production. There is optimism for a big season from RB Ryan Mathews, who will carry a big load with his former handcuff, Mike Tolbert, now with Carolina.

Burning questions: How do WRs Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal and Roscoe Parrish fit in with the Chargers’ offense? ... Can QB Philip Rivers return to form after 25 turnovers last season? ... Can first-rounder Melvin Ingram be the boost the pass rush needs? ... How will the defense look under first-year coordinator John Pagano, the team’s third defensive coordinator in as many years? ?

Fearless prediction: The spring talk about WR Eddie Royal will continue this summer, and with the additions of Robert Meachem and Roscoe Parrish, the Chargers will enter the season with one of the deepest, yet underrated receiving corps.

Fantasy nugget: Don't be too concerned about Rivers' turnovers from last season. He is still one of the league's top quarterbacks who has a bigger arsenal to throw to this season. When the top five QBs are gone (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Newton, Stafford), you shouldn't be disappointed with landing Rivers in the second or third round of your draft. He is primed for a big season.