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Tribal Warfare
08-20-2011, 12:50 AM
Haley has Cassel throw a few passes in second preseason game (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/19/3087676/haley-has-cassel-throw-a-few-passes.html)
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

BALTIMORE | For the second consecutive week, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel spent most of his team’s preseason contest on the sideline.

Still, he reminded fans that, yes, he can still find open receivers and complete passes. It was a welcome sight, particularly a week after Cassel started Kansas City’s preseason game against Tampa Bay, a game in which he handed off seven times and fumbled once before coach Todd Haley replaced him for the night with Tyler Palko.

On Friday, Cassel completed six of 14 passes for 73 yards in the Chiefs’ 31-13 loss against Baltimore — not exactly a memorable performance, but it was a start.

“I was a little rusty here and there,” he said afterward, “but at the same time, I felt like I threw the ball accurately most of the night and put the ball where I wanted to put it.”

The last time Cassel threw a pass against an opposing NFL defense, it came against Baltimore, this past January in a 30-7 playoff loss. He was erratic and inaccurate in that game, throwing three interceptions and getting sacked three times. That performance didn’t sully Cassel’s Pro Bowl season, but it overshadowed it somewhat, particularly given that it was his most important start since joining the Chiefs in 2009.

Cassel had fewer yards, 70, in that playoff game than he did even Friday, and after such a long time to think about that final loss last season, thanks to the NFL lockout, Haley perhaps had good reason to bring Cassel around slowly.

He said the Chiefs played Friday night’s game hoping to sharpen their fundamentals, and Cassel said that’s where his focus was. Cassel said those things ranged from his drops to placing his passes over the proper shoulder of his receiver. Still, he threw behind several receivers and misfired on more passes than he connected on.

“A lot of good plays,” he said, “and a lot of bad plays.”

Missing rookie wideout Jonathan Baldwin, Cassel targeted Dwayne Bowe five times in the first quarter, connecting with him twice. The Pro Bowl receiver was a security blanket for Cassel, and Cassel’s first pass was reeled in with one hand by Bowe. The pair connected again later on a 26-yarder down the right sideline.

Cassel played into the second quarter, also leaning on Dexter McCluster and new fullback Le’Ron McClain, who showed some of the versatility, in his former home stadium no less, that led Kansas City to sign him earlier this month. A week after being shut out at Arrowhead Stadium, 25-0, Cassel gave the Chiefs a pair of scoring chances in his abbreviated appearance. Kicker Ryan Succop made one of his two first-half field-goal attempts, clanging his second attempt off the right upright.

Haley opted to remove Cassel one play after left tackle Branden Albert suffered an apparent injury. The specifics of Albert’s injury weren’t disclosed.

Albert wasn’t the only one who was reminded about the rigors of an NFL game. Cassel was sacked once and was hit another time after throwing a pass.

“That’s what football is all about,” he said. “You really don’t feel like you’re out there until you get hit.”

Regardless, Cassel said he was glad to make passes again but relieved that there are two more tune-ups before the regular season begins Sept. 11 against Buffalo.

“That’s kind of what the preseason is all about, just trying to build off the stuff that you did well and correct the stuff that you’re not doing so well right now and hopefully get it corrected.”

KCrockaholic
08-20-2011, 12:56 AM
I would like to see us open up and toss it downfield a bit more...It was hard to get a sense for how well Cassel is playing or if he's "up to speed" based on this game.