AFC West Report: Camp Update 8/2/06

Shawne Merriman threw his helmet to the ground after a recent Oklahoma drill in Chargers training camp. The crowd was obviously pumped up after Merriman and rookie Kelly Griffith locked up. Griffith held his own during the drill and never went to the ground. That wasn't enough for Merriman, who has probably never lost a one-on-one drill and probably never will.

Marlon McCree seems to have locked up a position in San Diego's secondary. The free agent from Carolina brings experience to a unit that's starters combined for only five interceptions last year. With rookie Antonio Cromartie starting, that leaves little room for veterans. Marty Schottenheimer likes the competition, knowing that other players besides McCree and Cromartie will have to fight to keep a roster spot.

The Denver Broncos won't tackle until their first preseason game against Detroit. That makes it tough to evaluate several positions. According to Mike Shanahan, it is the running back position that is the toughest, and that can be hard on a player like Ron Dayne. Tatum Bell is able to cut back and accelerate, giving him an early edge in camp. Dayne was surprisingly ahead on the depth chart early on, but it looks like another running-back-by-committee scenario for the Broncos.

Denver quarterbacks are finding early success in camp. Rookie Jay Cutler got a good look at a Jake Plummer, who repeatedly threw touchdowns, scrambled and made good overall throws. Bradlee Van Pelt also isn't ready to concede his job. The scrappy young quarterback out of Colorado State also has looked good in camp. Cutler did get his chance eventually and had a nice touch pass on the run, impressing the coaching staff.

Jerry Porter still wants to get out of Oakland Raiders camp and now it looks like Al Davis is going to grant his wish. During a press conference, Davis said that Porter had "lost his way a little bit" and he has given him permission to seek a trade. Throughout training camp, Porter and new head coach Art Shell have not spoken. In fact, they have not spoken since March. Porter was nowhere to be seen in the afternoon sessions of practice.

In better news for the Raiders, Robert Gallery was taken off the physically unable to perform list. Gallery has been suffering from a leg injury, and Art Shell will monitor him closely during two-a-day's.

In River Falls the Kansas City Chiefs are looking for the perfect compliment to Larry Johnson. They may have found it in Michael Bennett, who arrives via trade with the New Orleans Saints. The Chiefs are also getting a good look at ex-Bronco Quentin Griffin. A much smaller and shiftier back, Griffin is easily lost amongst the big bodies of the lineman, and he's had some big runs.

Griffin is battling for a spot with rookie free agent Derrick Ross out of Tarleton State. Ross has been solid in camp and may have the leg up on the third-string job. Veteran Dee Brown is also in the mix.

Send your AFC West questions to steve@tailgateplayers.com

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