AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chargers, Raiders

     

Broncos

  • Joint practices can sometimes lead to trades, as opposing teams get a closer look at each other’s players than they normally would. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows identifies several potential trades between the Broncos and 49ers, starting at receiver, where the Broncos could be interested in 49ers WR Richie James to shore up the end of the receiving corps and provide a viable return man. 
  • Barrows says the Broncos could also be interested in linebacker if they don’t think they could get someone like David Mayo or Malcolm Smith off waivers.
  • Denver is also weak and dealing with injuries at tight end, where someone on the back of the 49ers depth chart like Levine Toilolo, Garrett Celek or UDFAs Tyree Mayfield and Daniel Helm could be interesting. 
  • Broncos OC Rich Scangarello is familiar with both 49ers QBs Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard, though Barrows doesn’t think Denver will be interested unless one is waived. 
  • Barrows says 49ers secondary coach Joe Woods is fond of Broncos CB Isaac Yiadom from his time in Denver last year and the 49ers’ depth at corner is shaky due to injuries. 

Chargers

With Melvin Gordon holding out for a new contract, the burden of taking over at running back for the Chargers falls to Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. While both will be in line to touch the football significantly more without Gordon, Ekeler says it doesn’t change their approach. 

“I mean, even if he was here, we have the same mentality,” Ekeler said via the Associated Press. “If he’s here, we still have to move forward. If he’s not here, we still have to move forward.”

All eyes will be on those two to see how they replace Gordon, who rushed for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns while catching 50 passes for 490 yards and another four touchdowns in 12 games in 2018. In the preseason opener, Ekeler ran five times for 40 yards and lost a fumble, while Jackson ran five times for 22 yards and scored a touchdown. If the two start to struggle, in theory, it puts more pressure on the Chargers to bring back Gordon, but it’s unclear to what level the replacements would have to fall for the team to cave to Gordon’s demands. 

“I don’t know that scenario. Like I said, we miss Melvin,” Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt said. “I think Melvin’s a hell of a football player, but we’re working with the guys that are here and they’re doing a nice job.”

Raiders

Raiders DE Arden Key said he sought out Rams’ veteran LT Andrew Whitworth during their training camp scrimmages last week. 

I sought him out,” Key said, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports. “That’s LSU family right there. We talked the two days we were playing up in Napa and practicing with them. They were telling me something about my rush moves, about how I’m giving it up early. Run at him, and then last second, just do your move.”

Key said he got stronger over the offseason and believes he uses his hands much more under Raiders DL coach Brentson Buckner.

I got a little stronger, which helps with the bull rush, and now that’s my [baseline] move,” Key said. “So much of the credit goes to ‘Buck.’ I’m really starting to use my hands now. Last year, I didn’t use hands at all. I was using my shoulder and a lot of forearm. If I can use my hands to keep guys off me, I can make moves and use my bend and length and things of that sort.”

After the Raiders released P Johnny Townsend this week, it would be fair for undrafted rookie free agent P A.J. Cole to assume he’d won the starting job. Cole isn’t about to let up any time soon, though. 

“I don’t think the mentality changes at all,” Cole said via the Athletic’s Vic Tafur. “I think that just because I am the only punter here, that doesn’t mean that I am the only punter. There are plenty of really good players that don’t have contracts right now, and I am just going to keep doing what I am doing.”

  • Tafur notes S Curtis Riley has a chance to push for a starting job because he’s more of a centerfield, cover-type safety than either Karl Joseph or first-rounder Johnathan Abram.
  • Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that chef Stefano Tedeschi filed suit against Raiders WR Antonio Brown in Florida’s Osceola County Court on July 30 claiming that Brown has an unpaid balance of $38,521.20 for his services. 

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