Jacob Hester can fill a need for Denver

I don’t think signing running back Jacob Hester will change the Denver Broncos' backfield, but it will provide options and depth.

Hester, 27, can help in short yardage situations, can get some inside yards and is a strong back-field blocker. At 5-foot-11 and 235 pounds Hester was a fullback for the San Diego Chargers, where he also excelled on special teams.

The Chargers drafted him in the third round in 2008 and he was a favorite of coaches and teammates for his work ethic. Hester was cut this summer.

Denver needed to add depth at running back because Willis McGahee McGahee tore the medical collateral ligament in his right knee. The injury will keep him out until the AFC title game if Denver makes it.

In other AFC West news:

Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Monday he hoping running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (high ankle sprains) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee/hamstring) could be back at practice this week as the team prepares to host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. All three players have missed three games.

U-T San Diego reports recent high draft picks, linebacker Jonas Mouton and safety Brandon Taylor, are expected to make their NFL debuts Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chargers were banged up at the two positions after San Diego’s 16-13 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The paper reports the team is preparing to be without standout inside linebacker Donald Butler after he injured his groin Sunday.

Peyton Manning will not have to face Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright Sunday since the Wright will be serving a four-game suspension for using a banned substance. But the Ravens are targeting the Week 15 game against Denver for a return for Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis from a torn triceps injury that was initially expected to end his season.

Denver defensive end Robert Ayers left the team temporarily to be with his family after the unexpected death of his father. He learned the news Saturday night at the team hotel in Kansas City. He played Sunday in the Broncos' win over the Chiefs.