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Around the AFC West: Lights, camera, action in Oakland

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos are on a break early since they are playing in the Hall of Fame Game and have to start training camp in mid-July. The news in the NFL doesn’t stop for most other teams though as mandatory minicamps are wrapping up this week.

The rest of the AFC West has had a rather interesting week in terms of news items. There is some big news, some injury news and a sleeper prospect that could make big plays in 2019.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC West to see what the competition is up to.

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Kansas City Chiefs

This time of year is an important one for NFL news. There are “fluff” pieces written around the league, but practice observations in June can give us clues as to what’s going to go on in August and beyond. We got some interesting clues about a sleeper running back for the Kansas City Chiefs this week.

Adam Teicher, from ESPN, reported that running back Carlos Hyde was seen in the backfield at the same time as starter Damien Williams at times. Hyde has even been used as a receiver on occasion. This is an important note as Hyde is more naturally talented than Williams and could carve out a larger role than some think.

Both Williams and Hyde came into the league back in 2014, but they were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Hyde was a second-round pick for the 49ers, while Williams went undrafted and had to earn a spot on the Dolphins roster.

Watch for Hyde to push for the starting job in camp. Williams is good, but he only has 183 carries in his pro career, while Hyde has toted the rock 827 times. Simply put, Hyde has the experience that Williams just doesn’t.

Also, my Chiefs sources told me from day one that the coaching staff was elated when they added Hyde in free agency earlier this year. Even though Hyde is a known player around the league, he’s kind of a sleeper in Kansas City as the current backup to Williams.

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Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers revealed this week that quarterback Philip Rivers is not expected to receive a lot of snaps in the preseason and could sit out the entire preseason to make sure he is ready for the regular season.

“When you have some players that are older, established players – like some of ours are – I’m not opposed to it,” Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday when asked about sitting some of their veterans in the exhibition season.

The team took a similar approach last summer and things worked out well. Rivers had 32 touchdown passes and his completion percentage (68.3) was near his career high. Rivers, Whisenhunt and head coach Anthony Lynn are entering their third year of working together, so it’s not like Rivers has a ton of new things to work out in the preseason.

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Oakland Raiders

The biggest news item from the AFC West is HBO’s decision to make the Oakland Raiders the featured team on “Hard Knocks” this summer.

I must admit that I don’t DVR “Hard Knocks,” and only catch it here and there. I’ll put on the show when it’s repeating and when I’m writing and not really dialed in. I think “All or Nothing” on Amazon Prime Video does a much better job than HBOm but that’s just me.

However, I may be changing my tune about “Hard Knock”s this year – mainly because of the characters on this Raiders team. We’re going to have cameras following around head coach Jon Gruden to showcase the real Gruden and not the TV analyst version most are used to. Antonio Brown is the most outspoken player in the NFL, and it’s likely to be a circus no matter what he’s doing. Add in troublemakers like Vontaze Burfict and Richie Incognito to see this could be like watching a car wreck.

I’ll be tuning in for sure.