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With an abundance of fantasy football information online, it’s not as though players are unknown when draft day approaches. At the same time, there are always players that could slip through the cracks in relative terms.

Maybe it’s because they are older. The NFL is most certainly a young man’s game, but there’s nothing wrong with having reliable consistency even if it’s not the flashiest fantasy pick.

Maybe it’s because they are competing for playing time, because opportunity plays such a big part of an NFL player’s success.

Maybe it’s a young player who hasn’t done much in the league. Without an established track record, there’s a better chance that they might avoid detection from other fantasy owners.

Maybe it’s due to injury, either their own or an opportunity created by another player getting hurt.

Whatever the reason may be, here are some sleeper candidates for the 2018 NFL season:

Philip Rivers, QB, L.A. Chargers – It’s not like he’s unknown since he’s passed for more than 50,000 yards in his career, but he’s also a 36-year-old that doesn’t make it as a flashy option at the marquee position. Nevertheless, he’s thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in each of the past five seasons and has played every game for 12 straight seasons.

Alex Smith, QB, Washington – He threw for a career-high 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, but Smith moves to D.C. this year and that could still be okay because the Washington offence has helped Kirk Cousins put up big numbers in recent seasons.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington – After rookie Derrius Guice suffered a torn ACL in the preseason, the door was opened for Peterson, the 33-year-old who struggled to 3.4 yards per carry with New Orleans and Arizona last season. Maybe he’s done, but it’s worth finding out if the 2015 rushing champ still has something left in the tank.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland – He has yet to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, but Hyde has 2,439 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons in San Francisco, and starts this season atop the Browns’ depth chart.

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle – First-round pick Rashaad Penny is knocking on the door, but he suffered a broken finger in camp, so Carson has the opportunity to start. He had a solid showing in brief action as a rookie, putting up 267 yards from scrimmage in four games.

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay – He is suspended for the first two games of the season, and is facing competition from Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams, but Jones averaged an extraordinary 5.5 yards per carry as a rookie, so he may be the upside play in the Packers’ backfield.

Mike Williams, WR, L.A. Chargers – The seventh pick in the 2017 Draft, Williams had 11 catches in 10 games as a rookie, but the 6-foot-4 receiver has big-time talent and should be a red-zone threat for the Chargers, especially after tight end Hunter Henry suffered a season-ending torn ACL.

Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas – The last time he had more than 500 yards receiving in a season was 2015, when he had 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns for Jacksonville. Now in Dallas, where the Cowboys have precious few proven receivers, Hurns may end up as Dak Prescott’s best option in the passing game.

Danny Amendola, WR, Miami – The 32-year-old vet had 659 receiving yards for the Patriots last season, his most in a season since 2012, but he’s also had trouble staying healthy. If he stays on the field this year, he could be a reliable slot performer for the Dolphins.

Ryan Grant, WR, Indianapolis – The 27-year-old had a career-high 45 receptions for 573 yards in Washington last season and now moves to the Colts, where he should have a starting job. If quarterback Andrew Luck is back to something approaching previous form, Grant could exceed last year’s numbers.

Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville – In the wake of Marqise Lee’s knee injury, Cole – and Dede Westbrook – should move into a more prominent role in the Jaguars offence. Cole was a big-play threat as a rookie, averaging 17.8 yards per catch.

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati – He could be the fastest receiver in the league, but also didn’t catch a pass as a rookie, but as a late-round flier, why not take a chance that Ross can emerge as a big-play threat for the Bengals?

Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis – The 2014 first-round pick has spent most of his career on the sleepers list, showing enough flashes to think that he could bring more. In the Colts’ offence this year, he just may have a better chance to produce.

Jake Butt, TE, Denver – Although he missed his entire rookie season, the Broncos tight end was a productive receiver at Michigan, catching 97 passes for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two seasons for the Wolverines. Now healthy, he has a chance to become a reliable receiving option for Case Keenum.

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — No more promises. No more vows.

It’s time for the Chicago Bears to put words to action and show that their rebuilt defense is ready to deliver as advertised.

They host the Buffalo Bills in the season opener this week hoping the big makeover starts to pay big dividends and set a course to the playoffs for just the second time in eight years.

They brought in five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen hoping he could spark a nonexistent pass rush and run defense after Chicago got trampled last season. He’s not the only addition to a defense that was one of the worst in franchise history.

The list includes end Lamarr Houston among others. The Bears are healthier, too, after being ripped apart by injuries, and they believe they now have the stoppers to back a prolific offense heading into coach Marc Trestman’s second season.

That starts on the line, particularly with Allen.

“I’ve been on some good defensive lines, and I feel just right there with them as far as comfortability level, knowing what we’ve got to do,” said Allen, who left Minnesota for a four-year deal with Chicago.

There is some uneasiness hovering in Chicago because the defense looked less than dominant during the preseason even when the starters played. And now, it counts.

The Bills are entering a new era after the death of founding father and Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson in March. They’re looking for more after three straight 6-10 seasons and 14 playoff misses in a row — the NFL’s longest active streak.

They acquired receiver Mike Williams in a trade with Tampa Bay last spring. They traded their 2015 first-round pick to Cleveland to move up five spots in the draft to take Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins at No. 4. They used three of seven draft picks on offensive linemen and added depth at running back — already a strength — by acquiring Bryce Brown in a draft-weekend trade with Philadelphia.

“It’s time for us to go out there and prove ourselves, and we got a great team to do it against,” running back Fred Jackson said.

Here are some things to look for in Sunday’s game:

MONSTERS AGAIN?: The Bears don’t necessarily need their defense to play like the Monsters of the Midway given the strength of their offense. They just need it to be more effective. Considering how bad it was last year, that shouldn’t be difficult.

The Bears ranked 30th overall and last against the run while tying Jacksonville with a league-low 31 sacks. They gave up 2,583 yards rushing and 5.3 per carry — both club records. But that was last year. They could have eight different starters from the finale against Green Bay in December. Allen (five), Jeremiah Ratliff (four), Lance Briggs (seven), Charles Tillman (two) and Tim Jennings (two) bring a combined 20 Pro Bowl selections.

MANUEL FOR IMPROVEMENT: If the Bills are going to break their playoff drought, their hopes hinge largely on Manuel. Though healthy after being sidelined three times last year with knee injuries, he hasn’t shown signs of taking a big step in his development.

He finished with a 4-6 record with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season after being selected 16th out of Florida State. He got a reminder this week that he still has a long way to go when teammates did not pick him for one of the six team captain spots.

FOR STARTERS … : It wasn’t a great preseason for the Bills’ starting offense. That group failed to score a touchdown on its first 18 possessions before reaching the end zone on consecutive third-quarter drives against Tampa Bay’s second string in a loss Aug. 23. The starters were also scoreless on three possessions in the finale against Detroit last week.

In all, they had four field goals and two scores on 23 possessions. That’s a concern considering all the moves the Bills made on offense.

TOP THAT: The Bears made huge strides on offense in their first year in coach Marc Trestman’s system. Can they top it?

Chicago leaped from 29th to fifth in passing and 28th to No. 8 in total offense in 2013. Jay Cutler had a career-high 89.2 rating, but he missed five games because of injuries. The last time he played a full 16 games was 2009, after the Bears acquired him from Denver.

DOMINANT D: Plenty of eyes will be on the Bears’ defense. But don’t overlook Buffalo’s.

A dominant front line has three returning Pro Bowl picks (Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus), and end Jerry Hughes had a career-high 10 sacks. They added linebackers Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers in free agency. One concern: outside linebacker, with Kiko Alonso out with a season-ending knee injury, and replacement Nigel Bradham serving a one-game NFL suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants tackle Will Beatty is going to remain on the physically unable to perform list for the rest of the season.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin says Beatty was diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury during his rehabilitation from a pectoral tear and will need surgery.

Beatty has been the starting left tackle for the most part since 2011. He tore a pectoral muscle in the offseason lifting weights and was placed on PUP to start the season.

The Giants had until Thursday to make a decision on activating Beatty.

First-round draft pick Ereck Flowers has replaced Beatty at left tackle and played well.

Coughlin also said that left guard Justin Pugh did not sustain a concussion Sunday. His headaches were from dehydration.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jim Tomsula made his modest head coaching start in NFL Europe, then landed as the 49ers’ top man nearly a decade later.

San Francisco promoted its longtime defensive line coach to head coach Wednesday, going with a familiar face following a national search that took more than two weeks and ended right in house.

The well-liked Tomsula is set to be formally introduced Thursday in a news conference at Levi’s Stadium.

“I’m a football coach. I’m Jim nobody from nowhere,” Tomsula said in 2010.

Tomsula replaces Jim Harbaugh, who parted ways with the Niners on Dec. 28 in what the team called a “mutual decision.” Harbaugh was introduced as Michigan’s new coach two days later following a successful four-year stint during which the 49ers reached three straight NFC championship games and a Super Bowl.

“After conducting a thorough coaching search, and meeting with a number of outstanding candidates, Jim Tomsula clearly is the right man to lead this team,” CEO Jed York said in a statement. “Jim is a great teacher and a tremendous mentor who conducts himself with great class and integrity.”

San Francisco went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time in four years since Harbaugh arrived in January 2011, and the franchise is turning to a familiar face to get the Niners back on track to chase a sixth championship.

York said a day after the season ended he wanted to find a “teacher” to lead the franchise forward. Certainly a coach familiar with the operation was important as the 49ers build around quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is coming off a disappointing year.

“I love my guys,” Tomsula said in a long sit-down with The Associated Press leading up to last season. “I have the best guys. They are just awesome guys from top to bottom.”

With the 46-year-old Tomsula’s hiring, it is expected that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and other coaches will depart given he wasn’t chosen for the top job and got leapfrogged by Tomsula.

“Our organization is excited to have Jim Tomsula leading this football team,” general manager Trent Baalke said. “We have had the privilege of working alongside Jim for the past eight seasons. He is a proven leader, teacher and mentor, and we look forward to seeing him apply his craft and vision to our team.”

From one energetic, animated Jim to another leading the way.

“Extremely happy for Jimmy T! Can’t wait to get back at it!” safety Eric Reid posted on Twitter.

In the early ’90s, Tomsula worked as a sales rep for a medical equipment company, then delivered newspapers and worked as a night janitor and cut firewood to earn extra cash in his early coaching days with a young family.

“It’s a good move. I look forward to fighting for Jim Tomsula,” said tight end Vernon Davis, who is a neighbor of Tomsula’s — their kids play on the same flag football team. “Tomsula, just the energy that he provides during the games and having a relationship with him, I can tell that (for) players, he’s one of those coaches players wouldn’t mind playing for. Just his spirit. He’s a good guy and a terrific coach. He’ll allow you to go out and do whatever you can do. He’ll put each and every individual in place to perform at a high level.”

Tomsula is a perfect 1-0 as a head coach.

Serving a single-game stint as interim head coach to end the 2010 season following Mike Singletary’s firing, the coach who attended tiny Catawba College in North Carolina chose to start Alex Smith under center over Troy Smith for a 38-7 win against Arizona in the season finale.

“We’re going to win. Let me make that clear,” Tomsula said at the time. “That was something we talked about this morning. Jed’s made that very clear. Trent Baalke’s made it very clear — very, very crystal clear.”

Harbaugh was hired a couple of weeks later on a $25 million, five-year deal and quickly began a transformation of a team that had gone eight years without a winning record or playoff berth.

Now, if anybody might be able to persuade defensive lineman Justin Smith to return for another season after 14 years in the NFL, it might be his old position coach.

Tomsula could be a strong influence on running back Frank Gore returning, too.

Guiding Kaepernick will be a big part of the process.

The 49ers’ offense was inconsistent behind Kaepernick, who completed a second full season as starter that featured too many mistakes and missed opportunities. Harbaugh promoted him over Alex Smith in November 2012, and the 49ers fell short of a Super Bowl championship after that season, losing by three points to Baltimore.

“It’s up to us to make sure we compete for and win Super Bowls. That’s our only goal,” York said. “We don’t raise division championships banners. We don’t raise NFC Championship banners. We raise Super Bowl banners.”

Tomsula will be challenged to get far more production out of an offense that struggled to score points in the second half last season. San Francisco managed only 37 points after halftime in nine games going into its 20-17 victory in the regular-season finale against Arizona.

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Bernard Pierce can’t wait to become the Baltimore Ravens’ starting running back in Sunday’s season opener against Cincinnati.

Pierce will step in for Ray Rice, who is serving a two-game suspension for domestic violence.

“I’m as excited as I can be, but at the end of the day I can’t really overthink it,” Pierce said after Wednesday’s practice. “I just have to make sure I stay mentally locked in and focused because, you know, this could possibly be my only shot. If you can’t handle the load, somebody else will.”

Pierce already has shown he can handle at least some of the load. He rushed for 532 yards in the regular season as a rookie two years ago, then ran for 202 more yards in four playoff games as the Ravens won the Super Bowl.

He also averaged 4.9 yards per carry in the regular season in 2012. His numbers slipped some last year as Pierce battled injuries (knee, shoulder) while working behind an ineffective offensive line. He finished with 436 yards and only 2.9 yards per carry.

Pierce then underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason and suffered a minor concussion in the third exhibition game versus Washington. He said he’s fine now and ready to go in his second career start.

“I guess it’s a good feeling,” Pierce said. “But we always have to prepare to be starters. So when you’re needed, you’ve got to be ready to go at all times.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he’s confident Pierce will be do the job while Rice sits out. The Ravens picked Pierce in the third round of the 2012 draft from Temple, and Harbaugh said there’s a reason he was selected that high.

“Bernard’s a good player,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got talent. He’s tough. He works really hard. We’ve all seen him carry the ball at his best, and we just want to see him be his best. He’s done a real good job.”

Pierce ran for 89 yards on 21 carries in the preseason and scored a touchdown.

Injuries slowed Pierce last year, but when he’s right, he’s effective.

“You’ve seen Bernard for a couple of years now. He’s a good running back, especially when he’s healthy and feeling good,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “I think he’s ready to go.”

The Bengals know that Pierce can cause problems as the focal point of new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s scheme.

“Bernard is a very good downhill runner,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s a strong, strong runner; he’s a good screen runner. He does a lot of good things.”

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns coach Mike Pettine is keeping his starting quarterback a secret — even from the quarterbacks.

“Strategic reasons,” he said Friday.

Pettine wouldn’t reveal whether Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel will start on Sunday when the Browns visit the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are playing their own guessing game with an injured Ben Roethlisberger.

With McCown still limited by injured ribs, Manziel took the majority of snaps with Cleveland’s starting offense this week in practice. Signs are pointing to the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner making his fifth career NFL start — and third this season — on Sunday. Manziel started in place of McCown last week and passed for 168 yards and one touchdown in a 31-10 loss to Cincinnati.

McCown, who returned to practice on Wednesday, has improved each day. Pettine said if he’s healthy enough to play, the 36-year-old will start. With a bye week coming up, it’s possible the Browns will give McCown another week to recover.

McCown is listed as questionable — a 50-percent chance of playing — on the team’s final injury report of the week.

Pettine hasn’t told McCown or Manziel if they’ll start. He did say third-stringer Austin Davis will be active.

Some fans might argue it won’t make a difference which quarterback plays for the struggling Browns (2-7). Pettine, a former defensive coordinator, said knowing who is playing in advance makes a big difference.

“If you’re game planning, let’s just say you’re going against a guy that can potentially scramble and you’re going to have calls up as far as setting your plan and kind of having your A plan and knowing who it’s going to be and being able to review that on a Saturday night,” he said. “You can force the mindset to kind of dovetail a little bit, ‘Hey, here’s plan A, here’s plan B,’ without saying, ‘It’s definitely going to be this.’”

The Browns haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 2003 — an 11-game losing streak — and Cleveland is just 6-26 against the Steelers since 1999.

As he prepares for another possible start, Manziel remains under investigation by the NFL for his involvement in a recent domestic dispute. The league is checking whether Manziel violated its personal conduct policy.

NOTES: S Tashaun Gipson missed practice with an unspecified illness. … CB Joe Haden and S Donte Whitner remain in NFL concussion protocol and will not play.

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RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll called it an “amazing experience” for the Seattle Seahawks to host the football team from Marysville-Pilchuck High less than a week after a shooting at the school left three students dead, including the shooter.

The high school team practiced at the Seahawks’ facility Tuesday. Carroll was there to meet the team, along with a number of players, including cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and wide receiver Doug Baldwin.

“It was an amazing experience to feel their gratitude. They were most grateful for the opportunity to be here,” Carroll said Wednesday. “Obviously, the Seahawks are a big deal to them. To see them react to Richard Sherman coming out and Earl Thomas and all the guys, and Bobby Wagner, greet them and shaking hands and taking pictures and having fun with them. It was tremendous. As always is the case, both sides receive a lot out of that kind of exchange.”

Student Jaylen Fryberg opened fire at the school’s cafeteria on Friday, killing two students and wounding three others. Fryberg killed himself. Fryberg was a popular freshman who played football and was crowned homecoming royalty days before the shooting.

The team practiced for about two hours inside the Seahawks facility.

“They were kind of shocked to see us I guess a little bit,” Sherman said. “They seemed like some excited kids. They seemed like for a moment in time they forgot about everything that happened and everything that was going on and were able to enjoy the moment and take pictures and smile and laugh and have a good time.”

Baldwin said the experience made him think of his 12-year-old brother.

“The thing I think about a lot is that you can’t take for granted the time you can spend with him or the time you can take to talk to him,” Baldwin said. “Just appreciating the people you have around you, loved ones, family members, friends, because anything can happen.”

The shooting came on the day Marysville-Pilchuck was scheduled to play Oak Harbor High for a division championship. Instead of attempting to reschedule the game, Oak Harbor forfeited the game to Marysville-Pilchuck, agreeing to finish second in the division.

Carroll made a point Wednesday to highlight the generosity of Oak Harbor’s decision and said the Seahawks hope to host Oak Harbor next week. Marysville-Pilchuck is scheduled to play its first game since the shooting this Friday night.

“It does speak to the power of sport and how it is such a unifying element in our culture and you could just see it in this local community,” Carroll said.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers go into their bye with Le’Veon Bell showing he can help Ben Roethlisberger with the balance coach Mike Tomlin has been wanting all season.

Bell turned in the best rushing performance in the NFL this season Monday night with 204 yards, and the Steelers finally beat a struggling team as they rallied for a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans.

“We want to be a group that’s capable of stepping in a stadium and throwing with anybody in the NFL,” Tomlin said. “We want to be a group that’s capable of stepping into a stadium and running with anybody in the NFL. I think we are rounding into form in that regard and then we can just do what the game presents to us and I think that’s a recipe for real, long term success.”

The Steelers (7-4) moved into second in the so very competitive AFC North, getting the win they so needed to avoid going into their bye on a two-game skid.

“We definitely could be sitting prettier, but we won the game going into our bye week, so now we can take a week and look back and see what happens in the rest of the division and go from there,” Bell said. “We can only control what we can control right now.”

The Titans (2-8) now must hit the road for a two-game swing in a month filled with winning opponents. But they showed signs of improvement with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger shaking off an interception returned for a touchdown on his first pass to help Tennessee take a 24-13 lead.

“We’re close,” Mettenberger said. “We’ve just got to keep working.”

Here are some things we learned about the Steelers and Titans:

RED ZONE WOES: Bell scored the Steelers’ first rushing touchdown since Week 3 against Carolina and only Pittsburgh’s fourth this season. The Steelers jumped out to a 10-0 lead that could have been bigger if they hadn’t settled for one of Shaun Suisham’s two field goals after having first-and-goal at the Titans 6. Roethlisberger also was intercepted in the end zone inside the final minute of the first half by Titans cornerback Jason McCourty.

“We still got to get better in the red area,” Tomlin said.

MUNCH’S PAYBACK: Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak coached his first game against the franchise he spent 32 seasons with as a player, assistant coach and later head coach. He was let go in January after going 22-26, and Munchak helped the Steelers hold the ball for nearly 40 minutes with a line opening big holes all night long for Bell. The Steelers held the ball for the final 6 minutes, 58 seconds.

GOOD LOOKING ROOKIE: Mettenberger showed plenty of poise for a rookie in his third NFL start. He left his first pass a little inside, and William Gay picked it off for a 28-yard interception return for a TD. But Mettenberger bounced right back, and his best throw came after McCourty’s interception. He hit Nate Washington in stride for an 80-yard catch and run TD that gave the Titans a 17-13 lead at halftime. Whisenhunt said he was impressed at how Mettenberger responded.

The Steelers were impressed too.

“You can see why they like him, he is a fighter,” Pittsburgh linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. “He sat in the pocket and took some hard hits and delivered some balls. For a rookie going against our defense, you have guys like James Harrison chasing you and he was just sitting in there and showing his heart.”

PROTECTING BIG BEN: For all the holes the Steelers opened for Bell, they still gave up five sacks to the Titans, including two to rookie linebacker Avery Williamson. Roethlisberger escaped another would-be sack when he broke loose on his lone run of the night.

CLEANER TITANS: Penalties have been such an issue for Tennessee that Whisenhunt has had officials at practice the past two weeks. Well, the Titans showed they’re learning as they were flagged only once for 10 yards when right guard Chance Warmack was penalized for holding. It was only the fourth time since the start of the 1999 season the Titans had one or fewer penalties.

“Maybe what we’re doing in practice is helping,” Whisenhunt said.

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NAPA, Calif. (AP) — Raiders tight end Clive Walford had the type of offseason that makes coaches cringe and smile.

Walford suffered a knee injury while riding an ATV, and while the accident wasn’t serious, it was enough to keep the 2015 third-round draft pick out of all of Oakland’s OTAs and minicamps.

On the other hand, Walford healed up enough to spend time with quarterback Derek Carr for private workouts, making up for the lost time and giving Walford a head start going into training camp.

Walford showed how critical that was to his development when he made a one-handed catch on a deep throw from Carr during individual drills Wednesday.

“You’ll see him every day we come out to warm up, as soon as he comes out he comes straight to me and wants to catch from me,” Carr said. “That’s the kind of things that we need and that’s how he is.”

Walford is trying to make it through the preseason without a setback after missing large chunks of training camp during his rookie season because of hamstring and knee injuries.

The injuries prevented Walford from practicing and were a major factor in his slow start. A holder of numerous tight end records at the University of Miami, Walford caught only three passes in the Raiders’ first five games a year ago and finished with 28 receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns.

Part of that was due to Oakland’s revolving door at tight end in 2015. Mychal Rivera caught 32 passes as the primary receiving tight end while Lee Smith was used primarily as an extra blocker.

Although it’s possible the Raiders might still keep three tight ends for the upcoming season, it’s equally likely they’ll go with two.

Walford figures to be atop the depth chart no matter how many tight ends Oakland keeps. He is a better blocker than Rivera, a better receiver than Smith and has the size (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) to be a match-up problem against opposing linebackers and safeties.

“I just continue to do what I’ve been doing, working hard ever since I was at Miami,” Walford said. “If you work hard it’ll start to show. I guess that’s what it’s doing.”

The Raiders weren’t happy when news broke of Walford’s injury while riding the ATV. Walford said he hit an unexpected bump on the trail and tumbled off.

“Believe it or not, when the accident first happened I didn’t realize how serious it was until I got to the hospital,” Walford said. “I thought maybe I just needed some stitches. They told me I was going to be out for a while, so I had to inform the team.”

Although he was unable to take part in on-field workouts while recovering, Walford stayed busy in the meeting rooms and weight room. Catching passes from Carr away from practices also helped make up for the lost time.

“The chemistry is still there,” Walford said. “I just have to get back into football shape.”

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Walford’s desire to work out with Carr on the side was encouraging.

“When you take the time to get on the same page with your quarterback, if you’re somebody that’s going to catch the ball and be involved in the offense, that’s a positive thing,” Del Rio said. “That’s a great sign for our football team. We see him as a real key player in our offense. Glad to have him back doing his thing.”

Notes: Undrafted defensive lineman Greg Townsend Jr. returned to practice. … Owner Mark Davis will fly Friday to Canton, Ohio, along with his mother for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for the late Ken Stabler.

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Joe Montana’s time with the Chiefs wasn’t long: two seasons, 29 games, counting the playoffs. But Montana had an impact in Kansas City after the 1993 blockbuster trade that brought him from the San Francisco 49ers.

The Chiefs won a division title in 1993 — their first season with Montana at quarterback — for the first time in 22 years. That season they advanced as far as the conference title game for the first time since the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV following the 1969 regular season. They haven’t been past the divisional round of the playoffs since.

When: April 26-28
Where: Arlington, Texas
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It has been 25 years since the trade. Here are three things about the deal you might not know:

Chiefs players were at least initially in awe of their new teammate. Kansas City’s starting quarterbacks over the previous two seasons were a collection of journeymen: Steve DeBerg, Mark Vlasic and Dave Krieg. So the Chiefs were more than a little curious about Montana, 36 at the time of the trade, when he arrived in Kansas City for offseason practice. “When Joe first came in, we had already started our offseason program, the portion where players could practice by themselves without coaches,” said Carl Peterson, then Chiefs president and general manager. “The defense would practice for 45 minutes, just 7-on-7 stuff, and then the offense would practice for 45 minutes. On Joe’s first day, when the defense was done and it was time to switch to offense, not one defensive player left the practice building. They all sat down around the perimeter to watch because they wanted to see Joe Montana play. That’s what those guys thought of the trade. It gave everybody hope we could win a championship. That’s why it was such a special time.”

If the Chiefs hadn’t acquired Montana, they wouldn’t have picked up Marcus Allen, either. The Chiefs and another future Pro Football Hall of Fame player, running back Marcus Allen, had discussed a free-agent contract before the Montana trade. The trade was the catalyst for finishing the deal. “As soon as I got the trade done with Joe, Marcus called me,” Peterson said. “He told me now that we had Joe, he wanted to be a Chief, too. So some other good things happened as a result of that trade.” Allen wound up playing five seasons for the Chiefs and twice was selected the team’s MVP.


The other player acquired in the trade lasted in Kansas City only as long as Montana did. The trade took a long time to complete and was agreed upon only with the draft looming as a deadline. Peterson and 49ers general manager Carmen Policy had reputations as tough negotiators. “He told me at the start, ‘This won’t be easy because I’m a stubborn Sicilian,’ and I said, ‘You’re right, it won’t be easy because I’m a stubborn Swede,’” Peterson said. The 49ers initially asked for first-, second- and third-round draft picks. “I said, ‘You’re crazy with that. You’re out of your mind,’” Peterson said. The 49ers finally agreed to send Montana, a third-round pick plus a player to the Chiefs for their first-round choice, No. 18 overall. The player was safety David Whitmore. He played two seasons for the Chiefs, with 19 games and 17 starts.