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Around the AFC West: Bridgewater takes the reins in Denver

Checking in on the rest of the division as preseason Week 3 begins.

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Following their 17-10 preseason victory against the Arizona Cardinals, the Kansas City Chiefs are back home for the last preseason game — this one against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s see what’s going on in the rest of the AFC West.


Denver Broncos

The question has been settled: the Broncos are rolling with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback in 2021. For some, this might be a shock — but it’s probably the right move. Drew Lock did have a few great throws in the Broncos’ first preseason game — but in the end, it seemed to come down to which quarterback was more accurate the following week against the Seattle Seahawks. Bridgewater was 9 of 11 for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Lock was 9 of 14 for 80 yards.

Bridgewater is likely the better option. When he was with the Carolina Panthers last season, we saw how close he can keep the games; the Panthers went 4-11, losing by only a single score in nine of them. This could have helped Bridgewater get Denver’s starting gig.

The Broncos only had to make two moves to get down to 80 players.

Waived

  • Linebacker Josh Watson
  • Wide receiver Branden Mack

In their final preseason matchup, the Broncos will host the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night.

Position battle to watch

Keep a close eye on the Broncos’ right tackle. For their starter, Denver is down to Calvin Anderson and Bobby Massie. Anderson was the 76th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but started only two games last year. 2021 could be his year. Massie is a nine-year veteran who started eight games with the Chicago Bears last season. Anderson is likely to get the nod on Saturday; Massie is a valuable backup player.

But knowing who is going to be his starting right tackle, will Bridgewater be able to sleep at night?

Must-see tweet


Las Vegas Raiders

With Marcus Mariota out during preseason Week 2, it was once again the Nathan Peterman show against the Rams. There is no position battle at quarterback — but since Derek Carr has yet to take a preseason snap, it will be very interesting to see how things play out.

One positive from the Raiders’ second preseason game was the interception secured by rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs. If he continues to play as well as he has so far, the fifth-round selection might become a diamond in the rough.

With linebackers Nichols Marrow and Javon White now out for some time, the Raiders traded a sixth-round pick to the Panthers for linebacker Denzel Perryman and a seventh-round pick. Perryman played for Las Vegas defensive coordinator Gus Bradley when both were with the Chargers.

Here’s what the Raiders did to get to 80 players:

Waived

  • Wide receiver Marcell Ateman
  • Linebacker Te’von Coney

Waived/Injured

  • Defensive tackle Darius Stills

Reserve/Injured list

  • Darron Lee

The Raiders return to the Bay Area on Sunday afternoon, taking on the San Francisco 49ers in their preseason Week 3 contest.

Position battle to watch

Pay attention to which player will become the defensive line’s run stuffer. In 2020, the Raiders ranked 24th against the run, giving up 2,013 yards — after ranking eighth with 1,570 yards in 2019.

Defensive tackles Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas, Darius Philon and Kendal Vickers are the four guys who have the chance to be Week 1’s starting defensive tackle.

Jefferson, Thomas and Philon are all in their first seasons with Las Vegas; Vickers spent his rookie season with the team last year. Jefferson probably has the strongest case to become the starter — but don’t be shocked if Philon gets the nod. He started more games for the Chargers in 2020 under Bradley, who might have made a strong push to bring him to the team.

Must-see tweet


Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers took a 16-10 loss against the 49ers in Week 2. The entire show was the battle between Chase Daniel and Easton Stick to become the team’s backup quarterback. The resulting lackluster showing on offense demonstrates how lucky they are to have Justin Herbert, who is widely seen by fans as the division’s second-best quarterback. In his sophomore season, they hope he can turn in another performance like the one that earned him Rookie of the Year in 2020.

Still, there are some questions surrounding Herbert. Can he go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and beat the Chiefs? With crowd noise this season, will he be able to audible? This season, we could learn that Herbert — while being the best quarterback taken in the 2020 draft — is only third-best in the AFC West.

Here are the Chargers who didn’t make the 80-man roster.

Waived

  • Long snapper Ryan Langan
  • Wide receiver Austin Proehl
  • Tight end Matt Seybert
  • Tackle Kyle Spalding
  • Defensive lineman Frederick Smith Jr.

Waived/Injured

  • Linebacker Damon Lloyd
  • Defensive lineman Chris Okoye

Reserve/Covid-19

  • Nasir Adderley

The Chargers signed linebacker Nate Evans.

The team will wrap up the preseason on Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

Position battle to watch

Los Angeles has few questions to answer — but one of them is about their primary pass rusher. Uchenna Nwosu is the clear favorite, but fourth-round draft pick Chris Rumpf II might be right behind him. With Melvin Ingram II finally off the team, this could be a must-watch battle. As long as they stay healthy, the Chargers could have a decent pass rush in 2021.

Must-see tweet