USA Today Inside Slant - Kansas City Chiefs
Veteran quarterback Damon Huard understands why most people consider youngster Brodie Croyle the favorite to win the battle to becoming Kansas City's starting quarterback.
"Every team in pro football is going to look for a young quarterback that can be their franchise player for the next 10 years," the 34-year-old Huard said. "That's the way it's always been. It is what it is."
And while there hasn't been much to distinguish the play of one quarterback over the other in the first full week of the Chiefs' training camp, the team's desire to establish a long-term starter probably gives Croyle an invisible edge.
Consider the play of both candidates during the Chiefs two joint workouts with the Minnesota Vikings last weekend.
Croyle got the chance to work with Kansas City's No. 1 offense during the Friday evening session at the Vikings' Mankato, Minn., camp. He made the most of the opportunity by hitting 17 of 19 passes. Included was a middle-distance post route to Eddie Kennison that might have gone for six.
Huard, meanwhile, generally struggled while working with the second-teamers who sometimes weren't exactly where they were supposed to be. Huard was intercepted in a 7-on-7 drill. On two other occasions veteran reserve Rod Gardner saved him with a couple of leaping grabs.
But the next night in the Chiefs' River Falls, Wis., camp, where the Vikings came to appear before a different set of loyal fans, Huard made the most of his night to work with the first-teamers.
He completed 11 of 14 passes, among them a slick 30-yard touchdown throw to tight end Tony Gonzalez. Croyle, meanwhile, struggled while working with the second unit. He was sacked a couple times, intercepted once and had another pick dropped.
And so the friendly competition — "Brodie and I have a great relationship, he a great kid," Huard insisted — goes on.
The Chiefs, in their desire to establish Croyle as their long-term guy, may have a rooting favorite. Blessed with a lively arm and now equipped with a better understanding of the Chiefs offense after one season, Croyle gets rid of the ball quickly, it flies out of the backfield with more steam than does a Huard throw.
But Kansas City also can't ignore what Huard did a year ago. Coming in when Trent Green went down with a serious concussion in Week One, Huard completed 60.7 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and only 1 pick — a 98.0 passer rating — and had a 5-3 record as a starter. Kansas City wouldn't have gone 9-7 and made the playoffs had Huard come in and make a bunch of mistakes.
Croyle, in limited action in the final quarter of a 45-7 blowout loss in Pittsburgh, had two of his mere seven passes intercepted last year.
However the competition turns out, career good-soldier Huard says he can live with the decision.
"I won't have trouble if I know I did my very best, if I did everything I could as far as preparation and hard work and laid it all on the line. If it doesn't work out, what am I gonna do? Quit?
"You go out there and give it your all, and if for some reason it doesn't happen for you, there's a reason for it. Sometimes I don't always understand it, but if you give it everything you've got, you don't have to regret anything."