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Keys to Training Camp: AFC West

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Denver Broncos

Link: http://www.denverbroncos.com/
Location: Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Centre (Englewood, CO)
Dates: July 28 - August 21
Open to the public? - YES (free of charge)

  1. Is Tatum Bell the next productive Bronco runner? - In limited action last season, Tatum Bell acquitted himself well averaging 5.3 yards per carry. But he only had 75 rushes last year and battled myriad bumps and bruises. Can Bell, the team's 2nd round draft choice last season, become the next star in the Broncos endless string of productive runners? Last season, most of the preseason hype surrounded Quentin Griffin and Bell, but it ultimately was unheralded Reuben Droughns who broke out. With Droughns trades to Cleveland, is it Bell's job to lose? How do Maurice Clarett and Ron Dayne factor into the equation?


  2. And the backup QB is? - Danny Kanell, Matt Mauck and Bradlee Van Pelt enter camp in a battle for the #2 QB slot. It would be a mild surprise if Kanell, the long-time NFL veteran, failed to beat out Mauck and Van Pelt.


  3. Will Jerry Rice make the team? - Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver in NFL history, is trying to make the Broncos roster but has been given no assurances. Presumably Rod Smith, Ashley Lelie and Darius Watts' roster spots are safe, but it would be hard to imagine, even at his age, Rice losing out to the likes of Triandos Luke or B.J. Johnson.


  4. (IDP) Integrating the "Brown-coes" - Mike Shanahan, a 2-time SB winning coach whose defense finished 10th in points allowed, 9th in yards per rush allowed, and 4th in yards allowed proceeded to acquire not one, but the ENTIRE starting front four from the 2004 Cleveland Browns, a unit that finished in the bottom third of the league. In one of the more curious moves in recent memory, Shanahan seems convinced that Courtney Brown, Ebenezer Ekuban, Gerard Warren and Michael Myers were just in need of a better environment. We'll see. Combined with the presence of Trevor Pryce, Mario Fatafehi, Raylee Johnson and recently acquired John Engelberger; it will be an all out dogfight in training camp to become part of the regular season DL rotation.



Kansas City Chiefs

Link: http://www.uwrf.edu/chiefs/
Location: University of Wisconsin-River Falls (River Falls, WI)
Dates: July 28 - August 19
Open to the public? - YES (free of charge)

  1. How is Priest? - Priest Holmes missed the 2nd half of the 2004 season with an MCL injury, but reportedly is 100% and ready to resume his role as the Chiefs offensive engine and one of the league's most productive scorers. Nevertheless, given Holmes recent injury history and the presence of Larry Johnson, fantasy owners and NFL fans alike need to make sure he's practicing at full speed in camp.


  2. Who's going to start opposite Eddie Kennison? - With Johnnie Morton now a 49er, the Chiefs must determine who will start opposite Kennison. Samie Parker is considered the favorite but Freddie Mitchell, know more for his sound bites than his on-field performance in Philadelphia, will also be given a look. Whoever starts will be in position to surprise people considering the Chiefs threw for 4,600 yards last season.


  3. Deciding on a right tackle - This time last year we discussed the same point, the Chiefs need a new fixture at right tackle. Jordan Black enters camp as the starter, but he's most certainly not proven enough to feel secure in his role. If Black performs up to expectations in camp, he'll maintain the job. But Kevin Sampson and rookie Will Svitek could also figure into the mix.


  4. (IDP) Did the Chiefs finally add enough defensive talent? - Gunther Cunningham wasn't able to work miracles last season, as the Chiefs finished dead last in yards allowed. The additions of rookie Derrick Johnson and veterans CB Pat Surtain, S Sammy Knight and LB Kendrell Bell are supposed to solidify the unit this season. Was it enough?


  5. (IDP) Surtain is good, but who else is going to start at corner? - Julian Battle tore an ACL, William Bartee is now a safety, Eric Warfield is serving a 4-game suspension for substance abuse…which leaves the Chiefs with a major hole to fill at cornerback. The team added Ashley Ambrose just before camp, but he's not suited to be a starter on a contending team at this point in his career. If no one emerges in camp, don't be surprised if Ty Law's name re-surfaces.



Oakland Raiders

Link: http://www.raiders.com/newsroom/newsroomNewsDetail.jsp?id=19444
Location: Napa Valley Marriott (Napa Valley, CA)
Dates: July 28 - August 24
Open to the public? - NO

  1. Welcoming Randy Moss - Randy Moss isn't merely the league's most explosive receiver, he's also a media tornado and his presence will alter the day-to-day attention the Raiders receive, particularly on a national scale.


  2. Welcoming Lamont Jordan - The Randy Moss trade understandably garnered more attention, but the Raiders signing of Lamont Jordan was significant too. The Raiders finished dead last in rushing yards last year; completely out of character for a Norv Turner led team. The Raiders targeted Jordan and moved quickly to sign him to a very big contract. He will be the team's workhorse and a critical component to establishing the offensive balance that Turner's more successful teams have enjoyed.


  3. Grove vs. Treu - Last season Robert Gallery was supposed to beat out Barry Sims at left tackle, but Sims held him off and Gallery moved to right tackle, where the two project as starters this year. This season, 2nd year Jake Grove is being looked upon to unseat center Adam Treu, but Treu can't be counted out without a spirited camp battle.


  4. (IDP) Can the defense stop anyone? - When you finish 31st and 30th, respectively in points and yards allowed, one would expect defense to be a major offseason priority. Yet, the Raiders traded away their most consistent linebacker (N. Harris) and one of their starting cornerbacks (P. Buchanon). The only notable additions on defense were oft-injured DE Derrick Burgess, rookie LB Kirk Morrison and a pair of fast but raw rookie corners. To say defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has his hands full would be an understatement.



San Diego Chargers

Link: http://www.chargers.com/camp/2005
Location: Chargers Park (San Diego, CA)
Dates: July 28 - August 25
Open to the public? - YES (free of charge)

  1. The WR Depth Chart - Keenan McCardell will participate in his first camp as a Charger, and will be one of the team's starter but nothing is written in stone beyond that. Eric Parker and Reche Caldwell must both prove they're healthy and also worthy of prominent roles ahead of rookie Vincent Jackson and veteran Kassim Osgood.


  2. Can the Chargers O-line survive without Hudson Houck? - The Chargers offensive line showed marked improvement the last two seasons thanks in no small part to the coaching wonders of Hudson Houck. Houck wasn't retained this offseason (he went to the Dolphins) and it will be important to watch how the unit, considered overachievers by some, responds.


  3. The RB situation beyond Tomlinson - LaDainian Tomlinson is the heart and soul of the Chargers offensive unit, but there appears some talent beyond Tomlinson. Jesse Chatman played well in spot duty last year; Michael "The Burner" Turner was well regarded coming into the league and this year's rookie Darren Sproles has received rave reviews in mini-camp.


  4. (IDP) The hunt for a free safety - Jerry Wilson, Bhawoh Jue, Hanik Milligan and Clinton Hart all figure into the mix at free safety. This may ultimately come down to the lesser of evils, but someone has to be slotted as a starter.


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