AFC West preview: Will Marshawn Lynch lift Raiders to the top?

By Nick Shook
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As we hurtle toward the regular season, check out our division-by-division primers highlighting players and storylines to watch in 2017. Nick Shook tackles the AFC West below.

Most significant changes from 2016

DENVER BRONCOS: Trevor Siemian was often left running for his life in Denver last season, cutting down the Broncos‘ title defense at the knees. Denver has since attempted to upgrade the offensive line, adding former Cowboys guard Ronald Leary and Raiders tackle Menelik Watson (who was atrocious in Oakland in place of Donald Penn late last season), and drafting left tackle Garett Bolles, who won the starting job in camp. Denver’s season will ride on how well this rebuilt unit performs, in both giving Siemian time to work and the running backs — including newcomer Jamaal Charles — room to run.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Kansas City bid adieu to Jeremy Maclin, opening up a bigger role for second-year dynamo Tyreek Hill, who returns with plenty of hype in his saddlebags. We can’t talk about the Chiefs without mentioning Patrick Mahomes — though if things go smoothly, he’ll spend 2017 wearing an earpiece and a ball cap. The Chiefs lost Spencer Ware to a significant knee injury, thinning out their backfield while also creating an opportunity for preseason sensation Kareem Hunt. A bigger role should also be expected for wideout Chris ConleyBennie Logan will attempt to replace the departed Dontari Poe at nose tackle, and Chris Jones is ticketed for enhanced responsibilities with Jaye Howard now in Chicago. Continue reading

Around the NFL Podcast: NFC Preview

A room filled with heroes – Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler, Gregg Rosenthal & Nick Shook – recap all the latest news from around the NFL including the Cowboys vs. Texans game cancellation, the Browns releasing Joe Haden, and Matt Stafford getting paid. The heroes take you around the NFC in 48 minutes to preview the NFC divisions before the season.

Click here to watch the Around the NFL Podcast.

Click here to listen to the Around the NFL Podcast.

Eric Dickerson to sign one-day contract, retire as a Ram

By Nick Shook
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Consider the olive branch accepted, and the fences mended. Eric Dickerson is going to retire as a Los Angeles Ram.

A season after the former Rams star was barred from attending the team’s games (thanks to his harsh critcism of the team’s then-coach, Jeff Fisher), the Hall of Fame running back is ceremoniously hanging up his cleats with the team that drafted him, the team announced Monday. Dickerson is set to sign a one-day contract with Los Angeles on Tuesday more than 20 years after he last played a professional down. Continue reading

Cowboys LB Hitchens suffered tibial plateau fracture

By Nick Shook
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The Cowboys‘ defense suffered another serious blow on Saturday night.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports linebacker Anthony Hitchens suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee and will be sidelined eight weeks, per a source informed of the situation. The news is better than previously expected as it was thought to be a season-ending injury.

The Cowboys do have some insurance with Hitchens sidelined for significant time, listing veteran linebacker Justin Durant behind Hitchens in the two-deep. Durant didn’t play Saturday but is expected to be ready to play in Week 1. There’s also the presence of Jaylon Smith, who continues his long road back from a major knee injury suffered in January 2016. Dallas likely won’t change Smith’s course out of necessity, though. Continue reading

DeShone Kizer shows flashes of potential in win

By Nick Shook
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DeShone Kizer got the somewhat surprising nod to start at quarterback for the Browns in Preseason Week 3. He did not disappoint.

The rookie passer took his first possession as the team’s starter and led a 10-play drive that covered 57 yards and resulted in a 38-yard field goal from Cody Parkey. Had Kenny Britt held onto a third-down pass on a hard slant (and had it not been pouring rain), perhaps that sentence would have ended with a touchdown. Continue reading

Jamaal Charles does enough to make Broncos roster

By Nick Shook
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Jamaal Charles hasn’t taken a meaningful, early season snap in what seems like forever.

(For those who need specifics, it was Week 6 of last season, when Charles was a Kansas City Chief.)

We won’t call the preseason entirely meaningful, but his first game reps with his new team were important. He made the most of them on Saturday in Denver. Continue reading

What we learned during Saturday’s preseason games

By Marc Sessler, Kevin Patra, Nick Shook
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Eighteen teams were in action Saturday for Week 3 of the preseason. Here are the five big takeaways:

1. Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer and wideout Corey Coleman were very impressive and established a great rapport.

2. Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg was quite bad early, then rebounded late against lesser opponents.

3. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor ended his preseason with a concussion.

4. The Colts house the NFL’s most concerning quarterback situation until Andrew Luck returns, but understudy Scott Tolzien showed signs of improvement.

5. Rams quarterback Jared Goff remains an enigma.

Here’s what else we learned Saturday: Continue reading

Redskins activate TE Jordan Reed (toe) off PUP list

By Nick Shook
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Washington is taking the bubble wrap off Jordan Reed.

The star tight end has been activated from the PUP list, the team announced Sunday. Reed had been placed on the list the day before camp opened due to a toe injury.

Reed’s target to return is Washington’s preseason Week 3 game against Cincinnati, a game in which the tight end will be wearing customized orthotics. Continue reading