Chiefs have QB decision ahead


The Kansas City Star

Will Kansas City pick the potential of Brodie Croyle (left) or the experience of Damon Huard?

RIVER FALLS, Wis. | When forced to choose a starting quarterback between Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard, the Chiefs will have hour after hour of practice video to aid in the process.

Some of that video will be more valuable, like that from two joint weekend practices with the Minnesota Vikings. The teams will get together Friday night at Vikings camp in Mankato, Minn., and then have a return engagement in River Falls the following night.

After almost a week of training, the Chiefs have come to know themselves too well. Cornerbacks recognize pass routes and can jump into passing lanes without fear of getting burned. Quarterbacks recognize pass coverages and can avoid trouble.

Against the Vikings, everything is new.

“Those practices definitely will help us,” said Dick Curl, the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach. “All of a sudden you’re going against a different team and they’re going to do some different things than we might be doing. We’ll see maybe some different looks, different types of schemes. That’s good for us. In some ways, it’s like a preseason game.”

Publicly, the Chiefs are being noncommittal about what they’ve seen from Croyle and Huard through the first week of training camp. Work between the two has been split almost evenly.

The Chiefs are also trying to give them similar plays so they can better make a side-by-side comparison.
“We’re trying to be fair to both of those guys,” Curl said.

Privately, the Chiefs are so pleased with Croyle that it’s hard to imagine he won’t be their choice as long as he continues his current arc. He has demonstrated a better ability to make all of the necessary throws than any Chiefs quarterback in a long time.

An example came in a recent practice with the Chiefs inside the opposing 10-yard line. Croyle had the narrowest of windows in which to fit a pass to Jeff Webb over the middle. His release, zip and accuracy were all perfect and the Chiefs had a touchdown.

Former Chiefs starting quarterback Trent Green certainly couldn’t have made the throw. Huard probably couldn’t, either.

“Not only did he get rid of it real quick, but he put the ball in a position where only Jeff could catch it,” Curl said. “His accuracy has been really good. The thing that will determine a lot of how far we can go with him is his decision-making when he has (defenders) running at him.”

Croyle didn’t fare so well in a recent practice with blitzing safety Bernard Pollard running at him. Croyle tried to force his pass to Michael Bennett, but Pollard tipped and intercepted it.

“It’s little things like don’t try to force things down the field when you have a back who can get you to second and 5,” Croyle said. “I’ve probably been told that more times than anything in this camp.”
Huard has been hanging on in the NFL for several years, so it’s wise never to count him out. He played better than the Chiefs dared hope last year when they lost Green.

“Certainly there’s a sense of urgency for me,” he said. “Like every other year I’ve gone to training camp, you’re always fighting for something. Whether it’s to be the backup or make the team, or this year to be the starter. I’ve been in this situation before, so it’s kind of what pro football is about. It’s all about competition.”

Croyle’s potential and inexperience make him the riskier pick. Huard is the safer choice. The Chiefs are certain what they would get from him.

“You believe in yourself and more importantly your teammates know they can win with you,” Huard said. “I hope that gives me an edge. But again, I’m 34 and Brodie’s 24. That’s the reality of it. We’ll go out there and compete every day and both of us probably are going to have to play this season at some point anyway. We both know we’re fighting to learn the system and the gain the respect of our teammates and make this team better every day.”

Coach Herm Edwards hasn’t set a date for deciding on a starting quarterback but has said he would like to have one halfway through the four exhibition games.

“You’ll see the separation as we go through the preseason,” he said.