AFC West Blog
Last season, rookie wideout Cody Latimer was a sleeper pick and a favorite to replace Wes Welker, who was facing a suspension, dealing with concussion issues and aging. Latimer ended up finishing the season with just two catches for 23 yards. He admits he was confused last season but vows to do better this year. He has a much better grasp of the offense this season under new head coach Gary Kubiak. "It's much easier to catch on. It gives you time to play fast; you don't have to think so much," Latimer said. "Not as many adjustments in this offense. Once you know what you're doing out of the huddle, you stick with that. No changing on the run … Last year was a disappointment to myself. I hated not being on that field. I took it as an oath of mine. This year I'm going to get on that field. I'm going to study extra and do whatever I need to do … I didn't have the opportunity to get on the field because I wasn't doing my job. This year, they'll know who I am."
Chargers first-round pick Melvin Gordon is doing a tremendous job of picking up the offense according to RBS coach Ollie Wilson. His hard work on and off the field will earn him the starting job and a ton of snaps. "He studies and he's smart," Wilson said. "When you give him something, you know that you're on to the next thing. Usually with rookies it takes a little while to get it done. Now, he's still working through some of the protection stuff. But for the most part, when we give him something, he's pretty much got it. So that's going to help him stay on the field."
Raiders projected feature back Latavius Murray sounds confident and ready for a major role. In limited work last season he averaged 5.2 yards per carry. This season he's ready to build off his momentum and shine as an every-down back. "For me, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I would think any person does," said Murray. "I just know how important it is. This is a big year for me and I know what I need to do to go out there and prove myself. I hold myself to a high standard … I'd like to think that I am a complete back, as far as knowing my assignments and protections and being a running back that can catch the ball out of the backfield. I know my assignments. I know who to block. Again, I think I can be a threat out of the backfield. As long as I am just getting better every day and improving in all areas, I think I'll be just fine."
Jeremy Maclin brings a much needed boost to the Chiefs WRs corps. The Chiefs wideouts not catching a single touchdown last season is astonishingly embarrassing it today's NFL. That's what happens when your WR1 is perennial underachiever Dwayne Bowe. Not only is Maclin physically gifted, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has been impressed with his mental preparedness. Smith talked about how well Maclin has done in camp as well as his ability to quickly pick up the offense. "I feel really good about where things are right now, where they're going, how they have progressed," Smith said. "I think with all of the restrictions and stuff that are in place now in the offseason, I don't see how we could have done any more. I really feel like we've gotten great work as a whole, but he and I especially have gotten a lot of reps together, a lot of good looks. I really feel like we have a good foundation before we put the pads on and head into camp … He knows it, hasn't skipped a beat as far as stepping in. And really, we've been able to do a lot more this offseason than you normally would with a new guy because of that. It's really kind of a credit to him for getting in mentally and being ready. It's really been interesting for me to kind of hear his perspective on things because he sees things really, really well and how he views things. And all of a sudden you go back and watch the film and you confirm it. It's been fun to come back the next day and right it."
Stevie Johnson signed a three-year deal with the Chargers this offseason. The once promising Bills' receiver once had three straight 1,000 yard season. However, he is now on his third team in three seasons and hasn't been a hot commodity in free agency the past two seasons. Now he appears to have found a home in San Diego and has built a lot of chemistry with Philip Rivers this offseason. He has a shot to be an impact player this season in a lackluster Chargers WRs corps.
Chargers pass-catching running back Danny Woodhead appears to be back to full strength this offseason. He missed 13 games last season with a broken fibula. The San Diego offense sputtered without a viable threat out of the backfield. For the first time since Philip Rivers had become the starting quarterback, a running back had failed to catch at least 49 passes in a season. The previous season Woodhead grabbed 76 of his 86 targets.
After a disappointing sophomore season, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is taking things much more serious this offseason. He has reportedly been much more focused and determined this offseason. Allen has also said that he's losing weight in order to play faster. The Chargers lack a true deep threat so increasing his speed could earn him a lot more targets down field, even if he's not a prototypical It is certainly an area of need for San Diego.
I think just about everyone expects Raiders first-round pick Amari Cooper to be a very good pro receiver. He was both the safest and most NFL ready prospect in the draft. There is very little he doesn't do well and many things he does exceptionally. His quarterback Derek Carr was blown away by how talented and polished he was this spring. "He [Cooper] is ridiculous in and out of his breaks," Carr said. "His style of play is perfect for this league. He's good at making fast-twitch movements. I think the sky's the limit for him."
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Gates reportedly tested positive for PEDs. Gates will be allowed to participate in all offseason and preseason games and activities. However, he will be forced to sit out the first four games of the season without pay. The Chargers will play the Lions, Bengals, Vikings and Browns during that span. Ladarius Green is expected to replace Gates during his absence.
Chargers veteran tight end Antonio Gates was suspended four games for testing positive for PEDs today. Gates claims he never knowingly used a banned substance in a statement he released not long after the suspension was made public. Gates stated, "In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails. I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn't reflect them. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I'd like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."