Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders drops back to...

Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass the ball downfield against the Buffalo Bills during an NFL game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw


OPEN CAMP: July 31, Englewood, Colorado.

LAST YEAR: Broncos began last season as prohibitive Super Bowl favorite after loading up on defense with Pro Bowlers. Peyton Manning had terrific first half before thigh injury derailed his season. John Fox headed off to Chicago after Denver's third straight postseason implosion, this time at home to Indianapolis. John Elway brought in old pal Gary Kubiak as Fox's replacement to try to coax another title out of aging QB.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Kubiak; TE Owen Daniels; FB James Casey; LT Ty Sambrailo; DE Vance Walker; C Gino Gradkowski.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: LG Orlando Franklin; TEs Jacob Tamme and TE Julius Thomas; NT Terrance Knighton; S Rahim Moore; WR Wes Welker; C Will Montgomery.

CAMP NEEDS: Get young offensive line to jell so that 39-year-old Manning can focus on perfecting Kubiak's new offense. Hope RB C.J. Anderson's Pro Bowl season wasn't fluke and Montee Ball can avoid another injury-marred campaign so Broncos can have 1-2 punch in backfield to ease pressure on passer. With DE Derek Wolfe facing four-game suspension, get MLBs Danny Trevathan (new kneecap) and Brandon Marshall (foot) up to speed to anchor Wade Phillips' 3-4 defensive scheme.

EXPECTATIONS: Broncos again are loaded with talent, especially on defense, but big questions in trenches must be answered quickly for them to again challenge Tom Brady and New England for AFC supremacy and give Manning chance to close out career on top.


OPEN CAMP: July 31, St. Joseph, Missouri.

LAST YEAR: Despite rash of early injuries, Chiefs were off to 7-3 start following win over eventual NFC champion Seahawks. Lost four of final six, missing playoffs when Ravens secured last spot ahead of Kansas City in final week of regular season. LB Derrick Johnson missed most of season with torn Achilles tendon, while SS Eric Berry was diagnosed with lymphoma. QB Alex Smith had up-and-down season in first year following four-year, $68 million contract extension.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: WR Jeremy Maclin; S Tyvon Branch; OLs Ben Grubbs and Paul Fanaika.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: TE Anthony Fasano; WRs Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery.

CAMP NEEDS: All-Pro LB Justin Houston must get up to speed after skipping offseason program, then signing six-year, $101 million contract on July 15. Must also settle OL after acquiring two new guards, getting Jeff Allen back from injury and drafting Mitch Morse in second round. WRs need to sort out depth chart with Maclin only clear-cut starter. Ditto DBs with rookies Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson figuring into mix.

EXPECTATIONS: Chiefs should be competitive again in tough AFC West, especially if first-year players contribute immediately. Maclin gives them legitimate downfield threat. RB Jamaal Charles is healthy after spending much of last season banged-up. Houston is happy with new deal, which should make defense among best in league.


OPEN CAMP: July 30, San Diego.

LAST YEAR: Went from 5-1, including Week 2 home upset of Seattle, to missing playoffs for fourth time in five seasons. Couldn't hang with elite of AFC, losing consecutive December home games to Patriots and Broncos. Needed only to win season finale at Kansas City, against backup quarterback Chase Daniel, but lost 19-7 as QB Philip Rivers was sacked seven times.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: CB Patrick Robinson; S Jimmy Wilson; WRs Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones; G Orlando Franklin; DL Mitch Unrein; RB Melvin Gordon; LB Denzel Perryman.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: C Nick Hardwick; G Jeromey Clary; OLB Jarret Johnson.

CAMP NEEDS: Chargers have to get offensive line jelling, running game moving forward and pass rush nastier. Franklin was obtained to form big wall with LT King Dunlap to better protect Rivers and open holes for Gordon. Chris Watt, one of five players to start at center last year, will be starter in his second season. Chargers had only 26 sacks last year and will be asking a lot of LBs Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu.

EXPECTATIONS: With ownership eyeing move to Los Angeles, this could be Chargers' 55th and last season in San Diego. Some fans think Chargers can leap-frog Peyton Manning and Broncos to win division, but they're forgetting about Kansas City. Chargers finished third behind Broncos, Chiefs each of last two seasons, and were swept by Denver, Kansas City in 2014. Rivers, safety Eric Weddle motivated to win in what could be their final year with Chargers, but Bolts still could miss postseason.


OPEN CAMP: July 31, Napa, California.

LAST YEAR: Raiders went through two coaches and won just three games in 12th straight season without winning record or playoff berth.

Dennis Allen was fired after team lost first four games and interim coach Tony Sparano lost his first six in charge before Raiders finally won. Bright spots from talented rookie class included Derek Carr, perhaps finally quarterback to end Oakland's revolving door at position since Rich Gannon left. LB Khalil Mack was one of NFL's top rookies and has makings of being a star.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Coach Jack Del Rio; WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree; C Rodney Hudson; S Nate Allen; LBs Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Smith; DT Dan Williams; RBs Trent Richardson and Roy Helu Jr.; TEs Clive Walford and Lee Smith.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: WR James Jones; RBs Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew; C Stefen Wisniewski; CBs Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers; DTs Antonio Smith and Pat Sims; LB Miles Burris; S Tyvon Branch.

CAMP NEEDS: Biggest holes to fill are on right side of offensive line and at cornerback. After disappointing debut season in Oakland at right guard, Austin Howard is moving back to natural right tackle position to compete for starting job with 2013 second-round pick Menelik Watson. That leaves utility lineman Khalif Barnes, Matt McCants, J'Marcus Webb and rookie Jon Feliciano to battle at guard. DJ Hayden, team's top pick in 2013, is competing for starting cornerback role with pair of second-year players, TJ Carrie and Keith McGill. Trio has just 15 career starts.

EXPECTATIONS: Raiders enter what could be final season in Oakland with another new coach. Del Rio is team's ninth since 2003 and has brought enthusiasm and proven staff headed by defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Raiders hope simpler defense and faster-paced offense will suit roster better and help lead to needed improvement. Oakland has 11-37 record in three seasons under GM Reggie McKenzie, but team hopes to have some building blocks in last year's top two draft picks, Mack and Carr. Carr has many more options this year with additions of Cooper and Crabtree, while Mack looks to become feared pass rusher. But cloud over entire season will be team's future: Raiders are playing on one-year lease in Oakland and have expressed interest in moving to Los Angeles area without plans for new stadium in Bay Area.

More football news