NFL training camps ar4e now in full swing — which means that soon, the Kansas City Chiefs will be in a race to win their seventh straight AFC West championship. But this year should be an extremely tight race; all four of the division’s teams will be lobbying for a playoff spot. Let’s look at the position battles that are underway among Kansas City’s closest rivals.
This offseason has been all about the Broncos getting their new franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. So now, we have to ask how he will hold up behind Denver’s offensive line? Last season, Wilson hurt his finger against the Los Angeles Rams when Aaron Donald put pressure on him.
In 2021, the Seattle Seahawks had a below-average offensive line in front of Wilson. With the Broncos, he needs to remain upright (and in the pocket) more often. To begin training camp, offensive tackles Billy Turner and Tom Compton were placed on the PUP list. This should give more opportunities to third-year pro Calvin Anderson — or even tackle Casey Tucker.
Turner and Compton should be back before training camp concludes — but the Broncos will have to make sure they put good protection around the player that they hope can get them back to the promised land.
For the Raiders, it’s almost been a massive defensive upgrade with the additions of Chandler Jones and Rock Ya-Sin. Of the two moves, trading the Indianapolis Colts for Ya-Sin was the better move, adding to what looks like an improved cornerback group.
Entering his third year, Amik Robertson was potentially in line for a starting job — but now with Ya-Sin on the roster, he is going to have to fight on his hands. Becoming the No. 2 cornerback — or starting in the nickel — is likely to be where Robertson will end up; second-year standout Natt Hobbs will probably beat him out. Just the same, Robertson putting in an impressive training camp could make things change.
Other players lobbying for a starting spot are Darius Phillips, Isaiah Brown and Anthony Averett — all of whom are Las Vegas newcomers.
The Raiders will go into action early, facing the Jacksonville Jaguars in the preseason Hall of Fame game on Thursday, August 4.
In Los Angeles, the most intriguing position battle is about who will be the Week 1 starter at tight end. In the offseason, the Chargers signed Gerald Everett to a two-year, $12 million deal after Jared Cook was not re-signed. After Cook’s departure, it appeared that the job was Donald Parham Jr.’s for the taking.
Parham’s 2021 season ended when he left the Week 15 against the Chiefs on a stretcher. Everett’s signing is a security blanket in case Parham is not 100% to begin the season.
Quarterback Justin Herbert will benefit tremendously if one of the two becomes his second- favorite target. Teams will tend to cover Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Eckeler — which should create opportunities for whichever tight end gets the job.