Arrowhead Report: Cassel's Surgery Successful

Posted Nov 16, 2011

Matt Cassel undergoes successful surgery, the Chiefs D has its plate full and the left-handed QB history of the Chiefs

Matt Cassel was back at the Chiefs Training Facility Wednesday afternoon after successfully undergoing surgery on his throwing hand earlier in the week.

Though Cassel’s right hand remained heavily bandaged, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley offered tempered optimism regarding the quarterback’s ability to return this season.

“Everything went really well,” Haley said. “We’re just giving it as much time as we can to see exactly where he is.”

It appears the Chiefs will use the next week to evaluate Cassel’s reaction to the surgery before determining his standing for the remainder of the season.

In the meantime, picking up a veteran quarterback doesn’t appear to be a short-term option. Haley said the Chiefs will go into Monday night’s game in New England with only Tyler Palko and Ricky Stanzi.

The third quarterback job will be utilized much as it has all season with a player from another position serving as an emergency option. This has been the case in the Chiefs previous nine games with Stanzi part of the game day inactive list each week.

“Our number three quarterback could be a number of guys depending upon the game day roster,” Haley said. “We have multiple guys that we do give snaps to and get center snaps and have a package of plays that they would be ready for and again that varies depending upon who’s been active and who has not because some of them are affected.”

Wide receiver Steve Breaston is one of the emergency options. He was a quarterback in high school and played alongside Palko in a Pennsylvania all-star game.

The all-star game was actually the first time Breaston played wide receiver. It’s a past that both Breaston and Palko still remember vividly.

“Make sure you tell them that I threw a better ball than you back in high school,” Breaston joked as Palko walked into an interview session Wednesday afternoon.

Palko’s response: “I’ll tell them whatever you want as long as you catch some touchdown passes Monday night.”

180 Degrees

It’s a different world this week for the Chiefs defense. A very different world indeed.

The lone offensive similarity between Denver and New England might be that both teams line up with 11 players. Past that, the Chiefs are preparing for the polar opposite of what they saw last weekend.

One week after facing a Broncos offense that ran the football 55 out of a possible 63 snaps and completed just two passes, the Chiefs prepare for a Patriots offense that has thrown the ball 40 or more times in over half its games.

“I don’t want to say that it’s getting ready for real football, but more like getting back to common-law type stuff,” LB Derrick Johnson said. “It’s totally different. They spread you out a lot and it’s back to regular game-planning this week, and it’s fun to get back to that.”

Regular game-planning presents a monstrous challenge this week as New England’s Tom Brady-to-Wes Welker connection has been all but unstoppable this season.

Despite defensive game plans designed to take him out of the game and everyone knowing where the football is going, Welker has caught 72 passes for 1,006 yards through the first nine games of the season. He’s posted five 100-yard games including a 16-catch, 217-yard outpour against Buffalo in September.

“He’s playing at just an unbelievable level right now,” Haley said. “Something I haven’t seen is somebody be over a 1,000 yards as quick as he has and just his toughness, his run after catch, his feel, his ability to beat coverage no matter how people are playing.”

In addition, the Patriots boast a tight end who would currently be the Chiefs leading receiver.

Rob Gronkowski’s numbers pale in comparison to Welker, but he’s still hauled in 52 passes for 709 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He’ll present another great challenge for a Chiefs defense that’s struggled to defend tight ends throughout the 2011 season.

“Gronkowski is someone who, obviously, the quarterback trusts and throws it to him regardless of whether he is covered or not,” Haley said. “Gronkowski generally finds a way to come down with the ball and has just phenomenal ability to use his body and make plays in the field and in the red (zone) area.”

With WR Deion Branch at nearly 500 yards and three others players hauling more than 100 yards through the air, its put Brady on pace to break Dan Marino’s single-season passing record.

“It’s a different game than what we just got done playing, that’s for sure,” CB Brandon Carr re-affirmed.

Carr says that Chiefs defenders will rely on Romeo Crennel’s familiarity with Brady to help create any type of advantage possible. Crennel served as the Patriots defensive coordinator (2001-04) during Brady’s first four seasons as an NFL starter.   

“If you’re around a person for a certain period of time you pick up on their mannerisms and things like that, so throughout the week I’m sure he’s going to jot down a set of notes and things for us to remember when the game comes on,” Carr said.

Left-Handed History

Here are a few left-handed facts I dug up this afternoon…

As it stands today, Tyler Palko is the only left-handed quarterback to attempt a regular season pass in the 51-year history of Chiefs football. On Monday night, he will become the first left-handed starter in team history.

The most recent lefty on the Chiefs roster was former Georgia QB David Greene.

Don’t remember Greene playing for the Chiefs? He was called up from the practice squad to serve as the third quarterback for the 2007 season finale after Tyler Thigpen tore his medial collateral ligament (MCL) during a December practice.

Also of note, the Chiefs drafted lefty Steve Matthews out of Memphis State in the 7th round of the 1994 NFL Draft. Matthews never attempted a pass for the Chiefs, but made a start for the Jaguars in 1997.

Finally, Chiefs quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn was an All-Pro lefty for 11 NFL seasons with Seattle (1976-84), Green Bay (1985) and Tampa Bay (1987), finishing his career with 21,115 passing yards and 111 TDs.

Oh, and former Chiefs QB Damon Huard has a left-handed brother, Brock Huard, that started four NFL games in the early 2000s.

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