Huardís injury tilts Chiefs QB contest further toward Croyle


The Kansas City Star

Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard is hobbled by a leg injury and finds himself looking at a backup role.

The Chiefsí quarterback competition appeared to be tipping toward Brodie Croyle anyway, but Damon Huardís sore leg could end all of the suspense.

Huard didnít practice Monday. He stood close by with an ice pack on his chronically sore right calf. He noticeably favored the leg when he walked.

Huard has been bothered by the sore calf during training camp, but this was the first time he missed a practice because of it. There was no indication the injury would keep him out long term, but the Chiefs were unsure whether he would practice today or play in Thursday nightís preseason game against New Orleans at Arrowhead Stadium.

ďI donít know that,Ē coach Herm Edwards said. ďIíve got to check with the trainer to see what he says. Weíve got another couple of days to see where he is.Ē
Edwards said over the weekend that Croyle would start against the Saints and play the entire first half and perhaps into the third quarter.

Asked what Huardís absence on Thursday night might do to the quarterback battle, Edwards said: ďThen you have to make the decision based on the information you have on hand. Weíll go back over the preseason games and the practices and everything else. Thatís how weíll make our decision. This (wouldnít) kill (Huardís) chances.Ē

Huard declined to comment.

Ever since last seasonís end, Edwards appeared to be leaning toward making Croyle the starter. Edwards talked in the immediate hours after the playoff loss to Indianapolis about the need to get Croyle ready to play this season.

Since then, the Chiefs re-signed Huard, who would have been a free agent, and traded Trent Green to Miami, but Croyle was always a central figure in their plans. Before the trade, Green was hesitant to return to the Chiefs because he feared the quarterback competition would be tilted in Croyleís favor.

Croyle and Huard split the work almost equally until Monday. Nothing the Chiefs have seen from Croyle, not even the two seemingly preventable interceptions in the two preseason games, has soured them.

Edwards has been noncommittal publicly since the start of training camp about the quarterback battle. But he has said he wants to settle on a quarterback for the foreseeable future and not just this season, something more easily done by going with the 24-year-old Croyle instead of the 34-year-old Huard.

Itís also obvious from the training camp practices that the Chiefs have more offensive capability with Croyle, who has superior passing skills. The Chiefs might have to live with a few more turnovers if Croyle is their quarterback.

ďThereís definitely a great difference between the two guys,Ē guard Brian Waters said. ďDamon is as reliable as there is. You can count on him to be consistent, and you know exactly how heís going to be. Brodie is a great talent, but for all the talent he has, he has to be a more consistent player if he wants to play in this league.Ē

Croyle welcomed the extra work, not only Thursday night but also in Mondayís practice. He and Huard had rotated in and out of the starting lineup in practice.
ďItís hard to go out there knowing youíve got three or four series, because you feel like every play youíve got to make something happen,Ē Croyle said. ďIíd love playing into the third quarter. You can get yourself into a pretty good rhythm.

ďAt this point Iím just as comfortable throwing to the second- and third-team guys as I am the first-team guys. The more you get to go with a certain group, the more comfortable youíre going to be, the more certain you are about where guys are going to be on certain routes.Ē