Arrowhead Report: Thursday, December 16th

Posted Dec 16, 2010

Thursday Night Football, your daily Matt Cassel update, Tyson Jackson's feeling good and Danario Alexander's NFL home

Chiefs fans won’t be the only ones tuning into Thursday night’s 49ers vs. Chargers matchup in Southern California. The majority of players, and head coach Todd Haley, said that they’ll be part of the viewing audience for the game as well.

“I’ll probably watch some of it, but we’re working on what we’re working on,” Haley said. “Generally, we get home in time to see the second half and then it will depend on the chaos level that’s in my household.”

“I watch football any time that I get a chance to,” LB Derrick Johnson added.

While most of the Chiefs will watch tonight’s game, each maintains that result will have no impact on how the club approaches it’s Governor’s Cup meeting with the Rams on Sunday.

“Everyone wants to pay attention to what happens with the Chargers, but for us the most important thing to do is to take care of business on Sunday,” DE Tyson Jackson said. “That’s been our focus all week and it will be our focus until Sunday gets here.”

Following Thursday’s practice, Haley said that the result of tonight’s game will have no impact on how the Chiefs handle Matt Cassel’s medical situation.

Some have floated the idea that Haley, and the Chiefs medical staff, might be more inclined to sit Cassel for another week if the 49ers are able to pull an upset victory over the Chargers. A San Diego loss would guarantee Kansas City sole possession of first place in the AFC West for another week regardless of what happens in St. Louis.

“Absolutely not,” Haley said when asked if Thursday night’s game would affect the Chiefs usage of Cassel this Sunday. “This is about us trying to get to 1-1 (in the fourth quarter) and doing the things that we would always do in this scenario. This is the biggest game of the year.”

Overall, the Chiefs say that they’ll be paying attention tonight, but that the result really doesn’t matter.

“We know our situation regardless of what any other division opponent (does),” Johnson said. “If we win, we don’t have to worry about that. That’s why we can’t get up and down about wins and losses of other people. Right now we still control our own destiny.”

As for Cassel, his participation in Thursday’s practice mirrored that of yesterday’s session. He continues to participate in some, but not all, of the team’s daily drills and his medical condition is constantly being evaluated.

While Cassel’s injury status remains day-to-day, the Chiefs are making sure that Brodie Croyle and Tyler Palko receive ample practice reps throughout the week as an alternate plan.

“We’ve tried to prepare both guys because you don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Haley said. “Even in a best-case scenario where things go well and Matt is out there, I think that you still have to be prepared.”

Injury Report

Cassel remained the only player on Kansas City’s injury report for the second straight day. His practice participation was limited.

Jackson Finally Feeling Good

Tyson Jackson’s sophomore season was supposed to be one of great strides. Instead, it’s been one filled with adversity.

The former first-rounder raced out of the gates with an impressive showing against San Diego in the Chiefs season opener, but suffered a knee injury during the later stages of the game. The momentum built from a productive offseason came to a standstill just as quickly as it began.

“It seems like it’s been a long time since I got hurt, but it’s one of those injuries that sets you back,” Jackson said. “Technique-wise, it just set me back so much further behind the rest of my defensive linemen. I’m finally starting to get back into the swing of things and back into the motion of helping this team out.”

Jackson’s knee injury kept him out of action over a month and the Chiefs opted to ease him back into the defensive rotation once he returned to the lineup in late October. Outside of a five-tackle performance against Buffalo on Halloween, Jackson’s return had been largely quiet.

On Sunday, however, Jackson was one of the few bright spots in Kansas City’s blowout loss to San Diego. In addition to recording his first NFL sack, Jackson also tallied five solo tackles and was around the ball a number of times. He also played nearly 40 defensive snaps, which was one of his highest snap tallies since returning from injury.

Jackson said Thursday that he’s finally feeling healthy from the knee injury that set his season back on Opening Day.

“I’m just really now getting back into the swing of things and everything is really clicking for me right now,” Jackson said. “I know the plays and am getting the technique back down. I’m pretty much clicking on all cylinders right now.”

More importantly, the head coach is seeing a difference in Jackson’s game as well.

“He is one of those guys and he has fought like heck since being set back early and I think that he is doing a good job,” Haley said. “He is clearly getting better and probably back to that level where he was when everything went down.”

Rams were patient with Danario Alexander

Rams WR Danario Alexander was an intriguing player whose progress was followed by many Chiefs fans after he went undrafted out of the University of Missouri. A big-play receiver, but one whose NFL stock was marred by a storied history of knee injuries, Alexander found it difficult to get any teams to take a chance on him. It wasn’t until August 22nd that the Rams finally bit and signed him to their practice squad.

“We always thought that the talent was there,” Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “The issue and the concern was his health. We certainly didn’t want to bring in somebody too early. We’ve always had him on our radar and we were always tracking his progress with where he was health-wise, and we were in constant conversation with his doctors.”

Alexander received his first opportunity to play on October 11th when he was added to St. Louis’ 53-man roster. He responded to the promotion with four catches for 72 yards and a TD in his NFL debut against San Diego (10/17). Unfortunately, Alexander re-injured his left knee two weeks later during a Friday practice in St. Louis and underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus shortly afterward. He would miss the next month of game action.

Alexander returned to the field on November 28th with four catches for 95 yards against Denver. When healthy, the rookie receiver has been a big part of the Rams receiving game. Sam Bradford has targeted Alexander 21 times in his five games this season, though Alexander was targeted only once (no catches) last week in New Orleans.

The buzz around St. Louis is that the Rams will try to get Alexander more involved this weekend against the Chiefs. His two best games have come against AFC West teams.

“I think he’s a quality player and he’s really been a nice addition for us,” Spagnuolo said.

Digging into the archives, here’s our NFL Combine interview with Alexander.

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