Hand injury puts Cassel's season in jeopardy

Posted Nov 14, 2011

Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to undergo surgery on throwing hand; backup Tyler Palko preparing for first career start

The remainder of the season is in jeopardy for Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who suffered an injury to his throwing hand that will require surgery. Cassel was removed late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game after taking a sack from Broncos linebacker Von Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil.

Cassel has yet to be placed on injured reserve, but that could change with a situation head coach Todd Haley described as “fluid” Monday afternoon.

“(Injured reserve) a possibility, but it’s not an absolute,” Haley said.

Immediate plans call for backup quarterback Tyler Palko to make his first NFL start Monday night in New England. Palko has appeared in four career games – all with Kansas City –and attempted 13 total passes.

There doesn’t appear to be any debate in starting rookie Ricky Stanzi over Palko. Stanzi has been inactive in all nine games this season.

“We feel good about the guys that we have on the roster – Tyler and Ricky,” Haley said. “It’s going to be like anything else that we’ve dealt with. You have to have guys that are developing and that are ready to go. In this case, that falls to Tyler.”

Palko relieved Cassel for the Chiefs final offensive drive against the Broncos and completed five-of-six passes for 47 yards. The drive ended with a 32-yard Ryan Succop field goal as Denver protected a two-score lead inside the final 90 seconds of regulation.

Haley wouldn’t rule out the possibility signing a free agent quarterback to compete with Palko and Stanzi, but was clear that the Chiefs are currently committed to Palko in Cassel’s absence.

This summer, the Chiefs decided against bringing in a veteran quarterback to compete with Palko and Stanzi during training camp.

“In general of what we’ve seen since Tyler has been here is that he has natural leadership ability,” Haley said. “We’re optimistic that we have the right guy in place to step in and get things done.”

The Chiefs are 0-2 in games that Cassel has missed because of injury.

Cassel sat out the 2009 season opener against Baltimore after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the preseason finale. He also missed a December road game in San Diego last season after undergoing emergency appendectomy surgery.

Brodie Croyle, who wasn’t re-signed as a free agent during the offseason, started for Cassel on both occasions.

“We feel good about Tyler or he wouldn’t be here as our number two quarterback,” Haley said. “I have belief in Tyler. In his case there is not a lot of regular season action to go on, but I feel like he’s done a great job while he’s been here of developing and getting better. He has a great understanding of how our offense works and what his role within it is.”

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