Palko, Orton both ready for starting job

Posted Dec 1, 2011

Tyler Palko works to limit turnovers, while Kyle Orton aims to build relationships with new teammates

In reality, Wednesday’s practice session was Kyle Orton’s first as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Orton threw a few passes at Arrowhead Stadium last Friday night and participated in the team’s walkthrough last Saturday afternoon, but for all intents and purposes he wasn’t truly preparing to play in an NFL football game.

That’s no longer the situation.

At a minimum, Orton knows he’ll be active this weekend. He’s receiving nearly half of the Chiefs first-team practice reps and is preparing as if he will start against Chicago.

“My job is to get ready as fast as I can,” Orton said. “I don’t make the decision whether I play or not. I just go out and prepare and try to play well on the practice field. I’ll be ready to perform whatever role that I’m asked to play.”

The starting quarterback job still belongs to Tyler Palko, who was first in line for snaps in the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to the media. But head coach Todd Haley has chosen his words carefully since Palko was responsible for four turnovers in last Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh.

“We need to get Tyler to continue to improve, and we need to get a new player integrated into our system and offense pretty quick,” Haley said. “They’re both equally important.”

Orton says that learning the playbook won’t be an issue. He’s more concerned in developing a winnable on-field rapport with his new teammates.

“It’s not just about learning the plays and drawing things up on paper,” Orton said. “Its how is Dwayne (Bowe) going to run the route? Its how is Jonathan (Baldwin) going to run the route? How’s Dexter (McCluster) going to do it?

“You know, it’s about all of that stuff. It’s all new and it was fun to go out there and practice with those guys.”

“Honestly, whoever is called on to play quarterback, I know they’ll be ready and we’ll be ready to play our part as well,” RB Dexter McCluster added.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith remembers Orton as a quick study when the two were paired together in Chicago from 2005-08.

Orton started 15 games for the Bears as a rookie and compiled a 21-12 record as a starter. He was 15-2 as a starter at Soldier Field.

“Kansas City got a good addition with Kyle,” Smith said. “He’s very bright and he gets it. He knows football and can make all the throws. He made good decisions and did all of the things that you want your quarterback to do.”

Chicago placed a wavier claim on Orton when he was released by Denver last week, but Kansas City held a higher waiver priority.

The move blocked Orton from potentially starting against the Chiefs this weekend.

“I used to kick his butt at ping pong daily - that’s what I remember about him,” Bears Pro Bowl LB Brian Urlacher joked. “Kyle was a good quarterback for us. He won a bunch of games for us his rookie year and he took us to the playoffs. He was a good teammate while he was here and I was sad to see him go when he left.”

While Orton is spending the week developing new relationships and learning the Chiefs playbook, Palko is aiming to improve his in-game decision making.

“I just have to make better decisions with the football,” Palko said. “When you have the ball in your hands at all times and you’re making a decision in a split-second, it’s not easy, but that’s why there’s only a couple starting quarterbacks that are really, really good for a long time in the NFL because they’ve learned how to do that. I’m learning how to do that right now.

Though Palko made several key throws to keep drives alive against the Steelers, he also threw three interceptions and fumbled an exchange with C Casey Wiegmann.

Palko has thrown six interceptions over his first two NFL starts and the Chiefs offense has yet to find the end zone.

“The way I view it is you have to earn the right to put your hand under center Sunday afternoon, Sunday night or Monday,” Palko said. “That’s just how it is, that’s how I’ve always viewed it. I think that you have to earn the right to do that and turning the ball over seven times in two games is just inexcusable regardless of whose fault it is.”

It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Chiefs implement packages for both quarterbacks on Sunday. Only time will tell.

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