Matt Cassel received medical clearance Tuesday to resume non-contact drills, which effectively positions the Chiefs for a quarterback controversy as they enter the bye week in their schedule.
Brady Quinn started for an injured Cassel in Sunday’s 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay.
“What I told them is I’m rotating the quarterbacks,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said prior to Tuesday’s practice. “They will get equal reps. (Ricky) Stanzi will be one who won’t get as many reps.”
Cassel suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ Oct. 7 loss to Baltimore. While he is only currently cleared for non-contact duty, he should be ready for the Chiefs’ next game, Oct. 28 against the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium, barring a setback in the interim.
Cassel said he was happy to be back on the field.
“It was great to be back out there with the team,” Cassel said. “Great to feel healthy again. It was only a week but it feels like I was gone forever. I was excited to be back out there with the guys. Again, it was an opportunity for me to get better and the team to get better.”
Cassel spoke for the first time since the injury and addressed the reaction from fans that caused a swirl in Kansas City and nationally. Some fans were heard cheering after the hit and were criticized by guard Eric Winston after the game.
“I’m not really going to speak to what happened last week,” Cassel said. “All I’ll say is, look, I live here year round. I’ve had nothing but support from the people in Kansas City, from the people we’ve met, my wife has met and my children go to school with.
“The fact of the matter is, Kansas City is a great place to play. We have a passionate fan base. I’m sure that they’re frustrated. We’re frustrated as well. But we’re working and doing everything in our power to get it corrected and moving in the right direction.”
Cassel said he wasn’t surprised to be sharing snaps with Quinn.
“That’s part of the deal,” Cassel said. “Coach Crennel said in a team meeting and spoke to everybody, that everybody is going get reps this week, that this is the time to evaluate people during the bye week, to try some different things and see where we’re at.”
On the hit, Cassel said he remembers the play.
“When I hit the ground initially that’s when it went a little fuzzy,” he said. “I tried to get up and get my balance and I couldn’t grasp what was going on It all happened so quick.”
But he’s back and will be closely watched in practice.
“They will give him another test next week, game week, to finalize it, to make it official,” Crennel said. “But I imagine that during these couple of days, if he does (well) and there’s nothing different on his baseline test, that he’ll be cleared for contact.”
Crennel acknowledged his hesitancy to identify a starting quarterback might prove disruptive for a 1-5 team struggling to reset its season.
“I’ve been involved in one before,” he said. “It is distracting because everyone is wondering who the guy is going to be. What happens is some guys on the team favor one guy over the other guy — even though everybody has a job to do it’s a distraction.”
Asked if he had a feel for which quarterback the players might favor, Crennel laughed.
“They’re going to favor the guy who gives us the best chance to win,” he said. “No, no, I’m sorry about that. They’re going to favor the guy who I say is the quarterback. That’s who they’re going to favor.”
Quinn said he’s continuing to adjust to game action.
“This is my sixth year in a league, but I haven’t played in or started many games,” Quinn said. “Any playing time I get is always beneficial to me.
As for Sunday’s performance at Tampa Bay, where Quinn completed 22 of 38 for 180 yards and two interceptions, Quinn said he could have played better.
“There were a couple of situations where I could have gotten into a better play,” Quinn said. “For me, that comes with having more experience and seeing things a little quicker.”
Cassel struggled prior to his injury, compiling a 66.2 quarterback rating while completing 58.5 percent of his passes. He had five touchdowns but nine interceptions while being sacked 13 times.
Quinn has a 53.3 rating after completing 24 for 40 passes (60 percent). He has yet to throw a touchdown and has two interceptions.
“We’ve got two days (this week) to work through this ” Crennel said. “We don’t have a game to play, so we can focus on (evaluation) because there’s no game plan or anything like that.”
Crennel emphasized he won’t choose a starter until next week.
“I understand there is potential speculation,” he said, “what-ifs and what-ands, but my stance is both of them will get work. Then we’ll evaluate it. Next week, we’ll get ready for game week, and we’ll make a decision.”
Crennel also revealed running back Jamaal Charles is limited because of a bruised back and was restricted Tuesday to limited duty. Charles leads the Chiefs with 591 rushing yards, an average of 98.5 yards a game.
“He’s limited today,” Crennel said. “Backs, you know how they are, it might loosen up, and he’ll be great to go (on Wednesday).”
Running back Peyton Hillis and defensive end Glenn Dorsey remain limited by injuries, Crennel said, but are improving and could be ready for the game against Oakland.