AFC West Report: Merriman Leads List of Injuries

AFC West Report: As the final preseason games arrive, injuries are mounting and roster spots are being determined.

A few big name players are getting bruises and cuts while others are just getting cut from their squad.

The Denver Broncos will officially call an end to the Maurice Clarett experiment on Tuesday. Mike Shanahan called Clarett in his office yesterday to tell him about his impending release on Monday when the Broncos plan to make the move official. Clarett did not play in the Broncos 37-24 win over the Colts on Saturday night.

Denver originally took Clarett with the last pick in the third round. Clarett's summer started going for the worse when he suffered a groin injury and was sidelined for about two weeks. Compound that with a loaded Broncos backfield and the Clarett cut was inevitably going to happen. If Clarett clears waivers, then he will become a free agent and some team will likely take a shot at him.

In the Broncos win over the Colts, Mike Anderson started the game with a 93-yard sprint to the end zone and that may have sealed Clarett's fate. Ron Dayne took the night off, but he'll likely make the team after an awesome and rejuvenated preseason. Quentin Griffin saw his first action of the season as he ran for 33-yards with his nine carries.

Ashley Lelie looks to be headed for a break out season. He led the league in yards per catch average last year, but he may be poised for a huge season. Lelie had five catches for 104 yards and a score. Jake Plummer finished his solid preseason with 150 yards passing and the scoring hook up with Lelie.

Defensively, Sam Brandon had an interception while the Broncos forced five sacks on Colts quarterbacks. John Engelberger, who came over via the 49ers trade earlier this summer, had three sacks.

Danny Kanell, Raylee Johnson and Patrick Hape will all be waived along with Clarett on Monday. The Broncos need to cut 15n players by Tuesday, and they will play their final preseason game on Friday against the Cardinals in Arizona.

The ChargersShawne Merriman and the Chargers got the best news possible regarding the injury he suffered in the preseason game against the Vikings on Friday. Merriman will be out at least two weeks after he injured the knee on a kick-off before he even got one snap playing at linebacker.

The Chargers took the night off, it seemed, after their first drive of the game. Drew Brees connected with Keenan McCardell in the red zone for a touchdown on the first drive. After the series, Brees took the bench. LaDainaian Tomlinson did not play, and neither did the suspended Antonio Gates.

Phillip Rivers did not play very well, completing only four of his passes in 15 attempts. Third stringer Cleo Lemon went 14 for 19 for 136 yards and a score.

On special teams, Darren Sproles looked great returning kicks and Nat Kaeding knocked in his lone field goal attempt from 46 yards away. San Diego will host the 49ers Thursday night.

The Raidersreceiving core took a minor bruise when the Raiders announced that Doug Gabriel broke a finger trying to catch a ball in practice and will be out a month. On the bright side, Randy Moss caught his first score in the preseason in a wide-open 40-yard connection from Kerry Collins. The Raiders did not win and dropped to 0-3 in the preseason with the 17-16 loss to the Cardinals.

Collins went 17 for 25 for 189 yards and the Moss score, so he looks like he's ready to pass in the opener against the Patriots on September 8th. Collins did lose a fumble, and the Raiders were able to recover two other Collins fumbles, so that may be a concern.

Sebastian Janikowski hit three field goals but missed a fourth late in the game, making it two late field goals he's missed so far in the preseason that could have won or tied the game.

Defensively, the Raiders pressured Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner repeatedly and they look like they will be an improved unit from their last place defensive ranking in 2004. The Raiders will finish up their preseason with the New Orleans Saints who left the hurricane-ravaged region ahead of Katrina in route to San Jose, Cal., to prepare for the week.

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