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Around the AFC West: The injury bug bites in a big way

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken / Getty Images)

The Broncos are still at the bottom of their division. Sitting at 0-2 in the standings, Denver has their work cut out for them as they travel to play the Packers in historic Lambeau Field in Week 3.

The AFC West has some major storylines right now. There are even some stories that might be minor at this time which could turn into larger issues in the future. It’s still a strong division but one that could turn into a one-team race quickly.

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


Kansas City Chiefs

Starting left tackle Eric Fisher will be out four to six weeks following core muscle surgery, but he’s not the only starter on offense dealing with an injury. The Chiefs also have injury concerns with starting running back Damien Williams (knee) and veteran backup LeSean McCoy (ankle).

Fisher is the blind-side protector for superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Fisher has transformed into a solid left tackle on what is a strong offensive line. Now, the Chiefs will start veteran journeyman Cameron Erving in that spot. Erving is big and athletic, but he has failed to impress in multiple stops around the league. Mahomes can scramble and he’d better be ready to do more of that with Erving at left tackle.

Williams has always been banged up throughout his pro career. There’s not much news yet on the severity on his knee injury, but he did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Without Williams, the team could turn to the veteran McCoy as the starter, but he is also recovering from an injury. McCoy had an MRI on his ankle on Monday and the results showed no significant damage.

He might be limited this week for the Chiefs as they play at home against a hot Ravens team. They might have to lean more on rookie running back Darwin Thompson, who has shades of Brian Westbrook to his game, in Week 3.


Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have lost another safety due to injury after just two games. Already without star safety Derwin James, Los Angeles lost Adrian Phillips after suffering a broken forearm in Week 2. Phillips will be placed on the Reserve/Injured List because of this injury, according to head coach Anthony Lynn. Lynn said Phillips may be designated to return this season.

The defense for the Chargers has a ton of talent at all three levels, but these injuries are robbing the team of some of their best playmakers.

On the offensive side of the ball, they’re dealing with replacing tight end Hunter Henry who has a knee injury. They went out and signed veteran Lance Kendricks this week to compete with former Broncos tight end Virgil Green for snaps and targets. Add in minor injuries for wide receivers Keenan Allen (knee) and Mike Williams (knee), and you can see how this Chargers team once again seems snake bit to begin the regular season.


Oakland Raiders

Two of the Raiders biggest stars on offense are battling injuries of various degrees. Both starting running back Josh Jacobs (illness) and wide receiver Tyrell Williams (hip) are trying to play this week while banged up.

The most curious injury here is the one to Jacobs. The rookie running back said in an Instagram post that he is dealing with an unspecified illness in addition to a groin injury and claims he has lost 10 pounds as a result. That’s not good, so the team may limit him in Week 3. If they do that, expect more touches for guys like DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The more straight-forward injury is the one that Williams is dealing with. He’s got a hip pointer that has limited him in practice this week. Williams is going to be matched up against Vikings All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes on Sunday, and it will be especially tough for him to produce against that level of competition if he’s not 100 percent.