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NFL Training Camp Primer: AFC West

Sam Spiegelman

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.
Peyton Manning
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Veterans report to NFL training camps as early as Saturday, and by the week’s end every team will be back to the business of football.

XN Sports will be previewing each division prior to the start of training camp to give the major storylines for each of the 32 NFL teams as they begin their camps.

Training Camp Primer: AFC East

Training Camp Primer: NFC East

Training Camp Primer: AFC North

Training Camp Primer: NFC North

Training Camp Primer: AFC South

Training Camp Primer: NFC South

Here’s the XN Sports Training Camp Primer for the AFC West:

Denver Broncos

Is Montee Ball ready to be the starter? Knowshon Moreno is out of the picture, leaving the second-year running back the first in line for the carries in Denver. It’s a big spot for a very talented player.

Are Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware healthy? Miller is coming off a torn ACL and Ware dealt with a shoulder injury last year. Together, it could the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL. Both have a lot to prove in 2014.

How are the new pieces of the secondary looking? The Broncos, in a win-now mode, added T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib in free agency, then drafted Bradley Roby to replace veteran Champ Bailey.

Is Wes Welker destined for a reduced role? Welker is 33 and was hindered by concussions in 2013, and the team signed Emmanuel Sanders and drafted Cody Latimer in the second round to bolster its receiving corps. Welker might be heading into his last year in Denver.

How does Ryan Clady‘s return impact the offensive line? Now Orlando Franklin is at guard, meaning the Broncos could be emphasizing more of a power-run approach this year. Plus, they have their best tackle back.

Kansas City Chiefs

Which receiver not named Dwayne Bowe will step up? Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins and Junior Hemingway round out the depth chart, but none are striking fear in opposing defenses.

Will Alex Smith‘s looming contract impact his camp? Smith wants to get paid like Jay Cutler and the other top-tier quarterbacks did, but he isn’t deserving of that type of money. Will talks of a contract dispute be on his mind during camp?

What is Dee Ford‘s role going to be? Ford has been the talk of OTAs. The first-round pick joins Justin Houston and Tamba Hali on a front seven that dominated for half of the last season. The unit’s production dropped off down the stretch, perhaps giving more reasons for the Chiefs to draft Ford.

Who can replace Brandon Flowers? Flowers is now with San Diego, leaving a competition for the left cornerback spot. Chris Owens and rookie Phillip Gaines will both have shots at taking the job.

How does the offensive line look? The Chiefs lost Geoff Schwartz, Branden Albert and Jon Asamoah in free agency, and any time you lose that much experience you’re bound for regression.

Oakland Raiders

Can Khalil Mack have an impact immediately? The first-round pick is slated to start at strong-side linebacker, and he garnered as much hype as No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. But will there be an adjustment period between Buffalo and the NFL?

How are the vets fitting in? LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck are newcomers to Oakland, and the veterans may be trying to salvage their careers. When veterans are in the mix, expectations are instantly raised.

Is D.J. Hayden too injury prone? Last year’s first-round pick was out most of his rookie year with a groin injury, then suffered an ankle injury during the offseason. He should be OK for camp, but he’s got a lot to prove.

Is James Jones the best wide receiver? Denarius Moore was mentioned in trade talks, while Rod Streater emerged out of the bunch in 2013. Jones comes over from the Packers where he was a key red-zone target but often plagued by drops.

Can Matt Schaub stave off Derek Carr? Unlike in Jacksonville, the Raiders won’t rule Carr out from starting. Schaub needs to produce in order to revive his career.

San Diego Chargers

Is Malcolm Floyd going to be a key contributor? Floyd is coming off a major neck injury, but he’s been the talk of the offseason. If healthy, he provides Philip Rivers a capable veteran receiver alongside budding talent Keenan Allen.

What does Dwight Freeney have left? The longtime Colts pass-rusher, Freeney’s first year in San Diego was cut short due to injuries. He’s projected to start at right outside linebacker this year at 34 years of age.

Can Flowers re-discover his form? The past two seasons Flowers has struggled in Kansas City, largely because of how he was utilized in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme. Can he be used effectively with the Chargers?

Will the loss of Ken Whisenhunt hurt the Bolts offense? Whisenhunt helped Rivers bounce back in a big way last season, but now Frank Reich is calling the shots. What does that mean for the quarterback in 2014?

Can Jason Verrett contribute right away? The Chargers’ secondary was atrocious last year, allowing more than 366 yards through the air per game. Rookies Verrett, Alden Darby and Adrian Phillips will join the unit hoping to turn it around.