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ALAMEDA, Calif. — The NFL is keeping an eye on the wildfires in Northern California and has been exploring options to move Sunday’s game between the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers if it becomes necessary.

Michael Signora, the NFL’s vice president of football communications, said Thursday that the league is getting updates on the situation from both teams and from city officials in Oakland.

“We continue to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and are in close communication with both the Raiders and Chargers, as well as local authorities,” Signora said. “At this point, the game remains scheduled for Sunday in Oakland.”

At least 29 people have died, and some 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the blazes, which began in California wine country Sunday. An estimated 25,000 people have been driven from their homes.

Oakland, which is about 45 miles south of the fires, has been blanketed by smoke.

The Raiders released a statement on the matter.
“We continue to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and are in close communication with the NFL, the Chargers & local authorities. At this point, the game remains scheduled for Sunday in Oakland.”

College football games in Berkeley and Stanford are also planned for this weekend, and officials from both schools are monitoring the situations there as well.

If the NFL decides that conditions in Oakland are too unhealthy to play Sunday, the Raiders game could be moved to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer has also offered up Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chargers used to play before relocating to Los Angeles this year.

“It’s up to them to make the final decision to either move us, prepare us to play here, or what not,” Raiders cornerback TJ Carrie said. “But we have to continue to practice and play as if we’re going to play here.”

Carrie said the Raiders have advised players to be cautious with their time outside.

“Our strength team and some of the nutritionist people that we have, they’ve expressed to us on different masks that we can purchase and different things that we can do to just keep us healthy,” Carrie said. “Staying indoors, little things that they feel like will make the most difference.”
The fires aren’t far from Napa, where the Raiders have held training camp since 1996, one year after late owner Al Davis moved the team back to Oakland from Los Angeles.

“It’s scary for all the victims that, one, we’ve lost, and then the victims who’ve lost their livelihood,” Carrie said. “We’re talking about homes, cars, memories, pictures. They’ve lost so much in this process, and it’s very devastating. As everyone within the community, we need to pull together for them.”

The smoky conditions have forced the Raiders to alter their outdoor schedule this week. Practice times have been changed to limit the effect on the players.

“We’ve done our best to stay as in-routine as we can,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “Coach [Jack Del Rio] has done an awesome job of adjusting where he’s needed to, but we feel like we’re putting together a good week of prep.”

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Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy served as the head coach for the Chargers for four years before the team fired him after the final game last season

Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy served as the head coach for the Chargers for four years before the team fired him after the final game last season

DENVER — Mike McCoy served as the head coach for the Chargers for four years before the team fired him after the final game last season due to poor performance, starting over in Los Angeles with new head coach Anthony Lynn.

Now, McCoy gets a shot at a bit of revenge in his role as offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, as they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football.

With four years spent helping to develop personnel and understanding the ins and outs of the organization, McCoy would seem to give the Broncos a considerable advantage heading into this one, right?

Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods thinks so.

“He’s been a great resource,” Woods told reporters this week. “Really, he talked to us about the personnel in terms of their strengths and weaknesses of each player from an offensive line, to the receivers, to the backs and to Philip Rivers.

“Also, from a scheme standpoint, that’s what we practice against. That’s what I told the guys. I told them we’ve been practicing against this offense since the offseason.”
While the Chargers run similar concepts in terms of the passing game, what the Broncos see Monday in terms of the running game may be different due to the arrival of Lynn and his influence on that aspect of the offense. And every year teams revamp their offense, adding new wrinkles depending on personnel.

“I don’t think it affects our tendencies,” Chargers backup quarterback Kellen Clemens said. “Mike obviously knows the players that are here. And probably could give them a good assessment on strengths and weaknesses. But in terms of specific team preparation, not a ton.”

Lynn said he’s not worried with what McCoy may be telling the Broncos about the Chargers.
“I think sometimes you can overthink that,” Lynn said. “I’m not going to mess with our plan too much.

“At the end of the day, it’s players making plays. They can watch tape and study our personnel. I’m not that concerned with them being familiar with our personnel.”

Along with how McCoy affects Denver’s preparation, here are five other things to watch for Monday night:

Chargers defense at full strength: Talented corners Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett, along with dynamic edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will play for the first time together. Bosa sat out the first four games of 2016 with a hamstring injury, while Verrett missed the final 12 games because of an ACL knee injury. The Broncos have three new starters on the offensive line and a new offensive coordinator in McCoy, so we’ll see if the Chargers’ frontline players can create impact plays.

Spotlight on running game: The two were on different teams, but when Lynn served as offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and new Broncos head coach Vance Joseph served as defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, the Bills rolled up nearly 600 yards of total offense (including 272 rushing yards) in a 34-31 loss to the Dolphins in Week 16. Of course, the personnel is different, but the Chargers’ overall philosophy should be the same — pound the football with Melvin Gordon against a Denver defense that’s thin up front defensively and allowed 4.3 yards per rush last season.
A chance at history for Gates: Veteran tight end Antonio Gates needs just one touchdown reception to pass Tony Gonzalez (111) for most by a tight end in NFL history. Gates has caught a touchdown pass in each of his last three games against the Broncos, and likely will be a target of Rivers early in this one.

Chargers familiar with Monday Night Football: The Chargers have opened on Monday night six of the last nine seasons. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers have lost each of their last three Monday Night Football games by a combined eight points, tied for the longest such losing streak in franchise history (The Chargers lost three straight in 1983-84). The Chargers held a fourth-quarter lead in all three losses.

Bright lights for Koo: In the battle for starting kicker, the Chargers went with undrafted rookie Younghoe Koo over incumbent Josh Lambo. In a game that could come down to the final minutes, the Chargers have to hope the moment will not be too big for their young kicker.