AFC West Blog
According to the Chargers' official website, the team plans to us wide receiver Stevie Johnson "in a variety of ways". He's expected to play both "outside and in the slot". Johnson is expected to see a lot of slot work early in the season due to the Antonio Gates suspension. He is expected to be a key contributor in Gates' absence. His quarterback Philip Rivers has nothing but good things to say about Johnson. "Stevie Johnson looks good," Rivers said. "He really came in and committed himself to learning (the system). You can just tell when he got here (he thought) 'I've got to dive in get this figured out because we play at a fast pace. We play a lot of no huddle.' So I've got nothing but positives to say about him so far."
Keenan Allen is expected to be the Chargers WR1. After a breakout rookie season, he disappointed during his rookie campaign. This season he has reportedly rededicated himself and looks great. According to his WRs coach Fred Graves, Allen is picking things up at a rapid pace. "It's impressive," Graves said. "He's a smart guy. He is one of those guys where you always have to give him something else because he picks things up so quickly. In a lot of years I've been coaching, he is (rare) in how he understands things. You can change things without frustrating him."
The Chargers lack a true deep threat in their WR corps. They added former Ravens' speedster Jacoby Jones to help remedy that issue. Entering the season with a 34-year-old Malcom Floyd as the primary deep threat was not going to work. Jones will add a lot to this offense with his speed and ability to make plays after the catch. Chargers WRs coach Fred Graves raved about Jones saying, "He gives us another guy who can go deep. Last year we had Malcom Floyd, but now we have two guys like that. We can put them on either side, and he is another physical guy, but obviously his run after the catch ability is the big thing."
Broncos' wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is expected to play in the slot more this season. He is familiar with the slot from his days in Pittsburgh. However, he played on the outside a lot more last season. Sanders has now confirmed that he will be moving to the slot this season when the team comes out in three-receiver formations. "When we go into our three-wide receiver package, I am going to move into the slot, which I'm very comfortable doing because I played the slot in Pittsburgh and a lot in college," Sanders said. "I'm looking forward to that."
Following this year's draft, the Broncos signed undrafted free agent Jordan Taylor out of Rice. He dealt with some nagging injuries this offseason, however, he made a "massive impression" when he was on the field. Multiple players and coaches in camp had good things to say about Taylor, including Peyton Manning. "He catches everything around him and he's gone up and made a couple plays on some deep balls, which have stood out," Manning said.
Despite the fact that Malcom Floyd will be 34 years old when the Chargers kick off the 2015 season, he is still a major factor in the offense. After suffering a career-threatening neck injury in 2013, Floyd produced the best fantasy numbers of his career in 2014. He is a reliable deep threat with great height (6'5) and wheels. His WRs coach Fred Graves makes it clear that Floyd is a leader and playmaker for the Chargers. "Everybody looks up to him," Graves said. "Everybody looks at him and says, well, he is in his mid-30s, but Malcom can still run. There are not many guys in this league who average 17 yards per catch, so he still has gas in the tank. He loves the game, and he was very successful coming off the injury last year. This year he wants to do the same."
Everyone around Broncos camp has been raving about second-year wideout Cody Latimer. It started when he went to work out with Peyton Manning at Duke University. Emmanuel Sanders also sang his praises and spoke about his improvement calling him a "special player". Now new head coach Gary Kubiak is doing much of the same. "I'm really excited about what he can bring and I know he's a lot better now than when he started," Kubiak said. "I'm excited moving forward."
Chiefs' rookie receiver Chris Conley has had an outstanding offseason. He got an opportunity to work in with the first team and was impressive. Conley will be competing with Jason Avant and Albert Wilson for snaps this season. It is very likely he'll be starting on the outside opposite of Jeremy Maclin when the season opens. Conley talked about his transition and his goals. "You're going from being the big man on campus, the guy who knew everything, who was doing everything right to being the person that nobody knows," he said. "It's a big transition for you and you have to learn to adjust … The expectations of myself are to continue to get better every day and do everything that's possible to help the Kansas City Chiefs win. Whether that's on offense, whether that's on special teams, or whether that's being a good teammate to other people who are playing."
Chiefs' second-year wideout Albert Wilson will enter training camp second on the depth chart after Jeremy Maclin. Wilson came on strong late last season after working his way into the WR rotation. He saw 12 of his 16 receptions in weeks 14-16. He also 24 of his 28 targets after Week 14. However, he has not looked up the job. Wilson will battle it out with rookie Chris Conley for the starting job.
Chiefs rookie wideout Chris Conley left training camp today with a knee injury. His head coach Andy Reid says it is just a strain. Nonetheless, his week is likely over. Conley is currently battling it out with Albert Wilson for a starting job.