AFC West Report: Old Quarterbacks Beware

With the National Football League preseason just over a week into the 2006 campaign, the young quarterbacks in the AFC West reassure the future of the division. Philip Rivers has turned heads where he hasn't turned them before, Jay Cutler had one of the best preseason performances for a rookie quarterback in NFL history, and Andrew Walter shows off a cannon for an arm.

For the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Casey Printers got the bulk of the load with the quarterback position thin with injuries in the Chiefs 24-14 loss at Houston. Printers spent much of his night handing the ball off and then scrambling from Texans defenders when he did have the chance to pass. Printers went 6 for 12 for 71 yards, the majority of those coming on the Chiefs final drive.

He also fumbled once and threw an interception. It may be the five sacks that was the toughest part of the night for Printers. Trent Green played just about a quarter going 5 for 6 for 34 yards. The best thing for Printers, who sits at the fourth slot on the depth chart, is that Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle did not play giving him a chance to prove himself. The best thing for Huard and Croyle is that Printers did play.

The defense didn't help the offense in this case either. The Chiefs defense was on the field 11:50 longer than the offense when the Texans dominated the clock keeping it for 35:55 in the game. The Texans also had 325 yards to the Chiefs 172 yards. Kansas City will play the Giants on Thursday night.

Philip Rivers looked like he was in complete command of the San Diego Chargers offense in their 17-3 win over Green Bay at Qualcomm Stadium. Rivers went 15 for 21 for 169 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a rope that Vincent Jackson laid out for on the Chargers opening drive.

It was a "in your face" scenario for Rivers and Jackson. On the play before the touchdown Rivers hit Jackson on a nice connection that was originally called a touchdown. After Packers head coach Mike McCarthy challenged the ruling and the challenge was upheld the score was taken off the board. On the very next play Rivers made it official hitting Jackson in the end zone for six. Rivers also led the Chargers on an 86-yard scoring drive in the first half, which he played most of.

The Chargers are large at tight end and receiver. Jackson stands at 6'5" in his second year in the NFL. We all know about Antonio Gates and Keenan McCardell, but the addition of Brandon Manumaleuna from St. Louis gives Rivers a 288 lb tight end standing 6'2". He had 4 catches for 45 yards. Ryan Krause also played well. The 6'3" tight end in his fourth year had 6 receptions for 64 yards.

The offense and special teams did take a blow when Darren Sproles suffered a broken leg. He is out indefinitely with no timetable for a return. Michael Turner played well rushing for 43 yards on 9 carries with a 13-yards touchdown run. LaDainian Tomlinson did not play. On Friday San Diego plays at Chicago.

In Detroit Jay Cutler had a promising performance for the Denver Broncos in their 20-13 loss against the Lions. Cutler went 16 for 22 for 192 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a 27-yard pass play to David Kircus that capped off a long drive taking 6:17 off the clock to start the third quarter. Cutler relieved Plummer who played only one series. Plummer had the Broncos on the move during his drive but Mike Bell, who Mike Shanahan moved to the top of the running back depth chart, fumbled the ball turning it over to the Lions. All of the Broncos running backs got plenty of carries for preseason action and the Denver running back controversy doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon, although one gets the feeling Tatum Bell will be the starter by the beginning of the regular season.

Javon Walker, Rod Smith, Champ Bailey and Courtney Brown all did not play in the game. On Saturday night the Broncos will play the Titans.

Randy Moss returned to Minnesota for his first time since he was traded away from the Vikings. The Oakland Raiders took away a 16-13 win out of Minnesota as well as a possible quarterback controversy. While Aaron Brooks was in the game the offense sputtered with Brooks passing 1 for 6 for 16 yards.

Second year player Andrew Walter passed 10 for 19 for 148 yards and a long touchdown connection to big Johnnie Morant who he hit in full stride from 67-yards away. The big arm looked promising to the Raiders coaching staff and owner Al Davis reassuring that they may have made the correct decision passing up on Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler during the draft. Walter did make two interceptions and Art Shell angrily stared him down as Walter walked to the sideline. The big arm was apparent though, and it may be sooner than later that Walter gets his shot.

Morant's performance was stellar with five catches for 108 yards. With Jerry Porter's possible trade situation, and Nate Gabriel and Ronald Curry continually facing injury problems, the 6'4" Morant provides a tall and fast target for the Raiders quarterbacks.

Sebastian Janikowski wants to have his best season as a professional after disappointing himself and the Raiders last season. He is off to a good start. After going 3 for 3 last weeks in the Hall of Fame game he went 3 for 3 in the Metrodome hitting from 27, 55, and 28 yards respectively providing the difference in the game.

The Vikings were in position to tie the game but head coach Brad Childress opted to go for it instead of trying a medium range field goal and forcing overtime. The Raiders hung on to win. The Raiders host bay area neighbor San Francisco on Sunday night.

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