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Arrowhead Report: Thursday, December 9th

Posted Dec 9, 2010

Chiefs push forward at practice without Matt Cassel; Casey Wiegmann remembers 2001 appendectomy

There’s no new news on Matt Cassel’s recovery from appendectomy surgery and head coach Todd Haley won’t rule him out of Sunday’s game just yet. Regardless, the Chiefs are going about their business by preparing backups Brodie Croyle and Tyler Palko as best they can while Cassel remains away from practice. Neither of Cassel’s backups has taken a snap this season.

“Today we don’t have to put any status and I don’t know what the status would be as of now,” Haley said of Cassel’s health. “He did not practice.”

Artificial crowd noise blared inside the Chiefs Training Facility Thursday morning while the play clock counted down from 40 seconds. It’s a setting similar to preparations for most road trips, but little things like cadence calls and quarterback/center exchanges have carried greater emphasis this week. Rather than overhaul an offensive game plan, Kansas City’s coaching staff is looking to simulate a game-like atmosphere for the team’s backup quarterbacks.

“It’s been a long time, all the way back to training camp for Brodie,” Haley said. “You try to do some things; we had a play clock out there, working the time simulation of the game so that I think that’s something that a quarterback misses when he’s not playing a bunch.

“We talked about our defense really taking a great deal of pride in the show team this week and really that’s for all sides always, but to really try to up the ante, so-to-speak, for the look that the offense is getting.”

Throughout the year, Haley has carried a practice-to-play rule. In previous instances, players who have missed a full week of practices find themselves part of the inactive list on Sunday.

“The policy is that you have to have some sort of resemblance of practice,” Haley said. “We’ll just have to see as the week plays out where we are and right now we have two days under our belt and a couple more left.”

Remaining on the Chiefs practice schedule is a 90-minute session Friday morning and a short walk-thru on Saturday prior to the club leaving for San Diego. For now, the team continues prepare for San Diego without Cassel.

As for the approach, the Chiefs aren’t looking at a Damon Huard/Tyler Thigpen situation. Haley believes that there are enough similarities between Cassel and Croyle that the team can prepare a game plan that works for both players. An offensive overhaul isn’t needed.

“The good thing is I think there are a bunch of similarities,” Haley said of the two quarterbacks. “I think they’d both be viewed as drop-back quarterbacks though they both have enough mobility to get themselves out of trouble when necessary. Obviously Matt’s a little bigger but arm strength, all those things, there are a lot of similarities in the two quarterbacks. For that reason, when you do have to work one or the other in, you’re not making a whole bunch of adjustments.”

Teammates have taken the news of Cassel’s absence in stride as they prepare for what marks as the biggest game that the Chiefs have seen since a 2006 playoff loss in Indianapolis. If anything, players have almost gone out of their way to rally around Croyle.

“Let him play ball,” WR Terrance Copper said. “We’re going to do what we’ve been doing. They both throw good balls and are very accurate. We have a lot of confidence in Brodie.”

Wiegmann Remembers Appendectomy

Chiefs ironman Casey Wiegmann doesn’t have much experience missing football games. He’s played in 9,877 consecutive snaps since 2001, covering a span of 155 straight games. Prior to the 2001 season, Wiegmann had played in 48 consecutive games.

Add it all together and Wiegmann has missed just one NFL game since 1998. The lone blip was because of an appendectomy.

“It took me a couple of weeks to recover, but it was at the end of the preseason and they didn’t want to rush me back too fast,” Wiegmann remembered. “I could have played in one of those weeks, but they didn’t want to risk it for the rest of the year.”

Wiegmann missed the final preseason game in 2001 (8/31) and was held out of the season opener (9/9) against Oakland. He then received an extra week to recover with the cancellation of games on 9/11 and returned to the playing field against the N.Y. Giants (9/23) in what would have normally been Week Three of the 2001 season.

As Wiegmann remembers, he was eyeing a Week Two return but never went through the clearing process.

“There was a chance that I could play,” Wiegmann said. “It’s hard to say, because it’s up to the doctor. When the games got postponed, we didn’t even go into the doctor until the next week. It’s all about what the doctors think.”

Wiegmann underwent the laparoscopic version of the surgery, which is typically less evasive and leads to quicker recovery times.

“It is what it is. Everybody has a different threshold for pain,” Wiegmann said.

“It’s up to a doctor about what they feel. Every position on the field has different stuff that goes on throughout the course of the game. As an offensive lineman, there’s a lot of twerking and stuff like that. It’s obviously a little bit different than the quarterback position.”

The player replacing Wiegmann in 2001 was a young Brian Waters. The spot-start at center was Waters’ first career start and his last at a position outside of left guard. He went on to start seven games at left guard later that season for Kansas City and has now started a total of 145 games for the Chiefs.

Injury Report

Outside of Cassel, Donald Washington (ankle) was upgraded to a limited practice participant after being held out of practice on Wednesday. Kendrick Lewis remains limited with an ankle injury as well.

Elimination Game

The Chiefs can take a huge step towards winning the AFC West by eliminating the four-time defending AFC West Champion this weekend. A win would do just that.

San Diego is in a win-and-hope situation, faced with the need to win their remaining games to have a realistic shot at defending their four-season run of division titles.

“I’m not concerned about that,” G Brian Waters said of San Diego’s setting. “I’m concerned about the part we control; everything else will take of itself. If you start focusing on things like that it’s a distraction. You just focus on the intimate details of doing what we can to win a game this Sunday.

“This isn’t about the past,” Waters continued. “This is about the 2010 Chiefs vs. the 2010 Chargers and nothing else. We have four teams on the rest of our schedule and every last one of them is necessary to get to where we want to get to.”

A Chiefs victory on Sunday would push the Chargers to 6-7, with a 0-4 record against both Kansas City and Oakland, thus eliminating San Diego from division contention. Still, the Chiefs aren’t thinking about things that way since the team needs more than just a victory over San Diego to clinch the division.

“Regardless if they are done or out of the race, we need to win,” LB Derrick Johnson said. “We don’t really care about their scenario. We care about ours.”

Time to Vote…Again

As the Chiefs keep winning, players continue to get nominated for individual awards. This week, it’s RB Jamaal Charles that’s up for FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week honors and Eric Berry that’s nominated for NFL Rookie of the Week.

You can vote for Charles by going to www.NFL.com/FedEx and you can vote for Berry by visiting www.nfl.com/rookies. Polls close on Friday at 11:00 AM CST.

2010 Chiefs In-Season Awards

Week 1 (vs. SD): Dexter McCluster (AFC Special Teams POW)

Week 1 (vs. SD): Dexter McCluster (Rookie of the Week)

Week 3 (vs. SF): Tamba Hali (AFC Defensive POW)

Week 3 (vs. SF): Tony Moeaki (Rookie of the Week)

Week 8 (vs. BUF): Jamaal Charles (NFL Ground POW)

Week 12 (at SEA): Matt Cassel (NFL Air POW)

November: Matt Cassel (AFC Offensive Player of the Month)

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