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Around the AFC West: Preseason games lead to new storylines

(Photo by Peter Aiken / Getty Images)

The Broncos played their second preseason game on Thursday night. They ended up losing to the Seahawks by a score of 22-14.

The rest of the AFC West is getting their preseason kicked off this weekend. That means new storylines will come to the forefront when it comes to the Broncos most important opponents.

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

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Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs running back Damien Williams (hamstring) remains the lead back and will be given time to recover, according to offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

“He’s the starter,” Bieniemy said. “We need to make sure that Damien continues to do the things he needs to do in order to help himself be ready when called upon.”

Williams has been slowed down by a hamstring injury, but the team insists that he’s their top back. That may not be the case if a guy like Carlos Hyde performs well in their preseason game over the weekend. Hyde has bounced around the league, but he is a talented player – and arguably a more talented back than Williams.

He’s seen his pro career set back by injuries and inconsistencies. If Hyde stays healthy, he could push Williams for the starting job even if Williams is healthy. We’ll see the Chiefs for the first time over the weekend, and I’ll be watching to see how their reserve running backs are performing.

Rookie Darwin Thompson is also a player I’ll be keeping an eye on.

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Los Angeles Chargers

Like the Broncos, the Chargers played a preseason game on Thursday night. They lost to the Cardinals by a score of 17-13, but they were missing some key starters.

Quarterback Philip Rivers did not play, as there’s no need for him to risk injury in the team’s first preseason game. Keenan Allen did not travel with the team due to injury and he did not play. The team was also still missing starting running back Melvin Gordon as his holdout continues.

Backup running back Justin Jackson did look good on Thursday night. He might be the lead back for the Chargers if Gordon’s holdout lasts into the regular season – or if he’s traded away as has been requested by his agent.

Jackson is a good all-purpose back who they picked up out of Northwestern in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Against the Cardinals, Jackson had five carries for 22 yards and one rushing touchdown. His main competition for the lead job, Austin Ekeler, rushed for 40 yards and added 29 yards receiving. We’ll continue to see these two backs compete in training camp and the preseason.

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Oakland Raiders

Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown is reportedly dealing with frostbite on both of his feet as a result of entering a cryotherapy machine without the proper footwear, according to a source with knowledge of the situation via Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms.

The NFL Network is calling it a “cryogenic mishap” and they are reporting that Brown is still day-to-day with the troublesome feet.

It is certainly one of the most-interesting injury situations we’ve ever seen in the NFL. Brown’s status for the start of the regular season seems secure, but it would be nice for him to get some work in during the preseason. Speaking of the Raiders, HBO’s “Hard Knocks” features them this year and is always fun to watch – even if it is the hated Raiders.