Cassel Doubtful for Sunday

Posted Dec 10, 2010

Head Coach Todd Haley designated QB Matt Cassel as "doubtful" on Friday afternoon

Matt Cassel returned to the Chiefs Training Facility Friday morning after undergoing an appendectomy procedure earlier in the week. His presence at practice was the first step in making a return to the playing field. For this weekend, however, Todd Haley has officially ruled Cassel as doubtful.

By league definition, “doubtful” means that there is at least a 75% chance that the player will not play. Cassel’s doubtful status further pushes the odds of backup Brodie Croyle making his first start since the Chiefs 2009 season opener in Baltimore.

“You always have to be ready,” Croyle said. “You never want to wish any ill will on anyone. Matt is one of my best friends on the team. Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with him, but if the opportunity comes this weekend I’m going to make the most of it.”

Cassel, who has 23 TDs and just 4 INTs this season, did some light throwing with teammates and appeared mobile at the Chiefs workout but did not dress for practice. Instead, Cassel wore sweats while the rest of the team practiced in spiders (pads worn under shoulder pads) and helmets.

Meanwhile, Croyle took the brunt of first-team reps with Tyler Palko filling in sparingly. Croyle’s work with the first-team offense this week has won over the confidence of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis if Kansas City’s backup is indeed called upon.

“I have the utmost confidence in Brodie,” Weis said. “He’s shown day-in and day-out that he’s a pro and that he knows how to prepare. He has all of the attributes to be a guy that can go in and help us win. That’s all that he wants to do. He wants to go and help us win.”

Brodie Croyle as a Starter

9 230 136 59.1 1255 7 5 50 17.0 75.2

Croyle Addresses Common Criticisms

The two knocks on Croyle are his injury history and winless record (0-9) as a starting quarterback. Both criticisms may be fair, but neither is necessarily applicable to this Sunday’s game.

“I guess it’s fair,” Croyle said of the criticism. “If history is what we’re going off of, I had a bad string of injuries that kind of ran together. Knock on wood, we’re done with those and will never have to worry about them again.”

After exiting training camp as a starting quarterback for the first time in his NFL career, Croyle made only two starts for the Chiefs in 2008 and wouldn’t finish either of those games because of shoulder and knee injuries. During the 2007 season, Croyle missed one game with a back injury (vs. Oakland 11/25) and left another contest early with a hand injury (at Detroit 12/23). He also has a history of knee injuries that began in high school and continued into his tenure as the starting quarterback at the University of Alabama.

With that said, the Chiefs are potentially asking Croyle to serve as the club’s starter for a short period of time; not a 16-game marathon. Croyle’s taken plenty of preseason hits over the past two years and also finished healthy against one of the most physical defenses in football last season (Baltimore).

As far as backup quarterbacks are concerned, the Chiefs are in a nice situation with Croyle. In addition to his expansive knowledge of Kansas City’s offensive system, Croyle also carries history as a starter and is entering the prime of his career from an age standpoint.

“You’d be more concerned if this was a rookie you were dealing with, because a rookie has had no real game experience and it’s a little different,” Weis said. “This has been fast-tracked. Because this is a veteran guy who has started and played in this league, I know that his mind and his preparation and work ethic…it’s not much of a concern to tell you the truth.”

In total, 15 teams have started more than one quarterback this season. The names include quarterbacks from various age and experience levels: Max Hall (ARZ), Todd Bouman (JAX), Kerry Collins (TEN), Tyler Thigpen (MIA), Colt McCoy (CLE), Jon Kitna (DAL), Drew Stanton (DET), Jimmy Clausen (CAR) and Charlie Whitehurst (SEA) represent just a handful of the backup quarterbacks called into action this season.

As for Croyle’s 0-9 record as a starter, Chiefs quarterbacks combined to post a just a 6-26 (.188) overall record during the 2007-08 seasons. It’s not as if any quarterback had much success in churning out victories on those rosters.

The Chiefs are a much different, much more talented, team in Week 14 of 2010 than they’ve been in any of Croyle’s previous starts. In his last start (9/13/09), Croyle posted a quarterback rating of 116.1 and had the Chiefs tied with Baltimore 24-24 at the 5:00 mark of the fourth quarter.

Beginning with the obvious, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, Tony Moeaki, Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja weren’t on Kansas City’s roster and Jamaal Charles had yet to become fully involved in the offensive game plan. Other than a handful of preseason contests, Croyle hasn’t had the supporting cast that he’d have on Sunday if pressed into action.

“This is a team offense,” Croyle said. “We’ve got a lot of guys making a lot plays and if I get the opportunity to go in there I’ll continue to get the ball to the guys who have been making plays.”

Chiefs Offensive Starters in Croyle’s Last Start

WR Dwayne Bowe

LT Branden Albert

LG Brian Waters

C Rudy Niswanger

RG Mike Goff

RT Ikechuku Ndukwe

TE Sean Ryan

WR Mark Bradley

QB Brodie Croyle

FB Mike Cox

RB Larry Johnson  

Injury Report

In addition to Cassel’s doubtful status the Chiefs ruled two players questionable for Sunday: Kendrick Lewis (ankle) and Donald Washington (ankle). Both Lewis and Washington were full participants at Friday’s practice.

San Diego Injuries

OUT: WR Patrick Crayton (wrist)

DOUBTFUL: WR Legadu Naanee (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE: TE Antonio Gates (toe/foot); WR Vincent Jackson (calf); LB Brandon Siler (rib); RB Darren Sproles (concussion); G Louis Vasquez (neck)

PROBABLE: LB Stephen Cooper (knee); DT Antonio Garay (ankle)

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