AFC West Notes: Hillman, Allen, Jackson

Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman ended last season fourth on the depth chart, but he’s rebounded with an impressive, encouraging offseason, reports’s Chris Wesseling. Hillman’s position coach Eric Studesville praised the third-year back, saying, “From when we started this spring in April forward, he has been unbelievable. He’s a completely different guy in the best possible way and I’m just excited about what he’s doing, how he’s approaching it, how he’s making plays on the field.”

Here’s a few more AFC West links:

      • The Broncos need to improve in the punt return game, writes the Denver Post’s Troy Renck, who takes a look at the players vying for the role, including Isaiah Burse and Jordan Norwood. The team can also use veteran Wes Welker if the “safe” option is the best option.
      • Donnie Avery had just 40 catches and two touchdowns in his first season with the Chiefs last year, but he remains the team’s best option to be the No. 2 receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe, says ESPN’s Adam Teicher.
      • The Chiefs’ offensive line is the focus of team reporter BJ Kissel, who writes about the impressive camp third-year blocker Jeff Allen is having. Allen is proving versatile and effective, and his teammates are noticing. Says Pro-Bowl pass rusher Tamba Hali: “I’m very impressed with [Allen]. He’s able to play guard and he’s able to play tackle and I’m going against him and he’s stoned me a couple times. I’m very impressed with him.”
      • There’s no more ambiguity about the type of offensive line the Raiders want to field, writes’s Jerry McDonald, who says rookie guard Gabe Jacksonrepresents a changing of the guard for the Raiders in ways that go beyond inserting the rookie third-round draft pick into the starting lineup.” Jackson has work to do in pass protection, but the Raiders envision the third-rounder as a powerful road grader with long-term starter potential.
      • The Chargers’ depth chart for their first preseason game looks like this. Notre Dame rookie Chris Watt will start at right guard, while free-agent acquisition Donald Brown is listed as the primary kick returner.
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