KC coach cutting it close

MATT CASSEL: Had appendectomy MATT CASSEL: Had appendectomy
Associated Press / December 10, 2010

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So if a guy has an appendectomy Wednesday, can he play football Sunday? What about the next Sunday? Might he be out the rest of the year?

Since the news broke that Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel underwent an appendectomy this week, speculation has abounded about when he’ll be able to return for the AFC West-leading Chiefs, who face San Diego Sunday.

Coach Todd Haley, who at first characterized Cassel’s absence as “an illness,’’ refused yesterday to elaborate.

“I appreciate the desire for all the Cassel questions that are probably out there,’’ Haley said. “But I’m just going to keep it as I always do. He’ll be listed as out today on the injury report, meaning he did not practice. Then we’ll have his status tomorrow. I’ll just leave it at that.’’

The most optimistic fans have Cassel trading his hospital gown for shoulder pads and starting in San Diego. They’re encouraged knowing that Ben Roethlisberger missed only one game for the Steelers after an emergency appendectomy right before the 2006 season.

Pessimists are saying Cassel’s gone for at least two weeks — games at San Diego and St. Louis — and perhaps longer. Having to go with injury-prone backup Brodie Croyle — 0-9 as an NFL starter — has them fearing the ruin of what’s been shaping up as Kansas City’s best season since 2003.

Croyle hasn’t taken one snap in a game all season and has not started a game since the 2009 season opener, when Cassel was hurt.

A Skelton crew?
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt still isn’t choosing a starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against Denver, but speculation is centering on rookie John Skelton.

Derek Anderson sat out practice again because he had not been cleared to participate after a concussion sidelined him late in Sunday’s 19-6 loss to St. Louis. That left Skelton and newly signed Richard Bartel the only quarterbacks to practice. Bartel had been a third-stringer with Washington and most recently was Daunte Culpepper’s backup for Sacramento of the UFL.

Anderson said he has had several concussions and started feeling better Wednesday. “But I still haven’t passed the quiz,’’ he said.

Whisenhunt said Skelton, a 6-foot-6-inch fifth-round draft pick out of Fordham, “is making progress.’’

“I’ll tell you what, he’s here morning, noon, and night,’’ Whisenhunt said. “The hard part is taking it from the learning aspect and executing it on the field, but he’s working hard at it.’’

Favre watch is on
The Vikings have gone from “optimistic’’ to “hopeful’’ that Brett Favre will make his 298th consecutive regular-season start Sunday against the Giants. Favre, 41, missed his second straight day of practice with a sprained SC joint in his throwing shoulder, and interim head coach Leslie Frazier said it will likely be a game-time decision on whether he starts. Favre isn’t the Vikings’ only injury concern: Receiver Percy Harvin has not been at the team’s headquarters this week, staying home to treat a migraine that has bothered him for more than a week; left guard Steve Hutchinson did not practice and is trying to determine if he can play with a broken right thumb that caused him to miss last week’s game; and defensive end Ray Edwards (ankle sprain), cornerback Chris Cook (knee), and safety Tyrell Johnson (knee) did not practice . . . A spokesman for former Jets game hostess Jenn Sterger, who allegedly received inappropriate photos and phone messages from Favre, says she won’t sue the Vikings quarterback if he’s punished by the NFL . . . Redskins general manager Bruce Allen says it was a coincidence that Albert Haynesworth’s four-game suspension — the longest possible under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement — came with four games left in the season . . . Packers coach Mike McCarthy expects left tackle Chad Clifton (concussion) to play in Sunday’s game at Detroit.

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