AFC West mailbag

Weekend mail call:

Charles from San Diego wants to know if I think the Chargers will sign a veteran inside linebacker to start.

Bill Williamson: I think they will keep their options open. Yes, the Chargers like youngsters Donald Butler and Jonas Mouton. San Diego is a veteran group on defense, so it thinks it can live with a young player at one of the two inside linebacker spots, especially with 14-year veteran Takeo Spikes playing next to him. Butler and Mouton will both get long looks. If the Chargers get worried close to the season, we could see them do something as an insurance policy.

UPDATE: Veteran linebacker Stephen Cooper re-signed with the Chargers on Friday evening and he will provide depth at the position. Yet, the Chargers still like Butler and Mouton. This post was written before Cooper signed and I am just getting settled in Denver. Thanks, BW.

Shane from Denver wants to know when I think Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas will be ready to play.

BW: Well, the Broncos hope he can come back at midseason, but there are no guarantees. The No. 22 overall pick of the 2010 draft ruptured his Achilles in February. Again, Denver is hopeful they will see him on the field in 2011, but they are moving forward with their other receivers at the moment.

Mike from San Jose wants to know if I think Oakland could cut receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

BW: I think there is no chance that he will be cut this year. Yes, Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall pick of the 2009 draft, hasn’t done much in his first two years. But he will be given a chance to develop. Al Davis has too much invested in this speedster to give up on him now. However, if Heyward-Bey doesn’t make strides this season and is bypassed by a player such as rookie Denarius Moore, perhaps Oakland will lose patience in the offseason.