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Patriots notebook

Palko is the chief concern

KC quarterback bit of an unknown

With the Patriots holding only a walkthrough practice, Stephen Gostkowski had a little extra time to kick around. With the Patriots holding only a walkthrough practice, Stephen Gostkowski had a little extra time to kick around. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
By Julian Benbow and Monique Walker
Globe Staff / November 17, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots haven’t played the Chiefs in three years, so any shred of footage is fair game - preseason tape, college film, home videos, YouTube.

When former Patriot Matt Cassell was under center for the Chiefs, New England had somewhat of an edge in game-planning. But Cassell went down with a hand injury last Sunday, for which he underwent surgery Monday, so the Patriots will have something of a research project to do on second-year quarterback Tyler Palko.

“We’ll dig and dig and whatever we find, we’ll go everywhere,’’ said defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. “Wherever we have to go to find some footage of him, we have to because with Cassel and everything, he hasn’t seen a lot of playing time. So, we’ll find it. We’ll be OK.’’

The last meeting between the teams was the 2008 season opener, won, 17-10, by the Patriots, although they lost Tom Brady to a season-ending knee injury. Since then, Todd Haley has taken over as Kansas City’s head coach. The Chiefs also have had their share of front office turnover, including former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli taking over as general manager in 2009.

“We haven’t seen them in quite awhile,’’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “A lot of new faces, of course new coaches, quite a few new players from the last time we played them. We’re really starting from scratch.’’

Although there isn’t much game tape to go on, preparing for Palko (who’s played in four career games) should be like preparing for Cassel, Belichick said.

“I think Tyler is very similar to Cassel, except he’s lefthanded,’’ said Belichick. “The same type of guy - a hard-working guy that is smart, has a lot of confidence. I think they have a lot of confidence in him. He can pull the ball down and run and run some of their bootlegs and quarterback movement plays, and so forth. I would be surprised if they would change too much.’’

Brady, meanwhile, should be familiar with what the Chiefs’ defense will likely throw at him since former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will be the one calling the signals. Crennel joined the Chiefs last season after four years as head coach of the Browns. Kansas City is 22d in total defense.

“It’s what we do on defense, so there’s a lot of familiarity through training camp and every day in practice,’’ Brady said. “It’s really a 3-4 defense, they’re very fundamentally sound. You can see the things that they’re coaching every single week.

“They line up, they’re very physical, they make it hard to run it, they have some very good corners, very experienced corners, some athletic linebackers. It’s a very good group and because they’re very well coached they’re rarely in a bad position.’’

Cannon fired up

Rookie fifth-round pick Marcus Cannon was added to the 53-man roster Tuesday, but immediate plans for the 6-foot-5-inch, 358-pound offensive lineman are still uncertain.

“I’ve just been waiting around, doing what I can to help the team,’’ Cannon said. “I feel great, it’s awesome.’’

Cannon was diagnosed prior to the draft this spring with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but after three months of treatment he practiced for the first time in late October. The Patriots then had three weeks to decide whether to place him on the 53-man roster or on injured reserve. Belichick, however, won’t say how much he’ll use Cannon this season.

“Look, anybody that is on the roster certainly has to be ready to be play,’’ Belichick said. “But I don’t know whether he is going to play or not.’’

Cannon, meanwhile, wouldn’t say whether he’s gotten most of his work at tackle or guard.

“I enjoy anything [Belichick] puts me at,’’ he said. “I just enjoy playing football.’’

In terms of strength, Cannon said he’s coming along.

“I’m not going to say I ever lost my strength,’’ he said. “I mean, I did but I didn’t. But I’m feeling good, feeling great.’’

Minus McCourty

Cornerback Devin McCourty was among the players not spotted at yesterday’s walkthrough. He injured his shoulder in last Sunday night’s win over the Jets and did not play in the second half. Linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) and linebacker Dane Fletcher (thumb) also were not spotted during the walkthrough, which was held inside the Dana-Farber Field House. Because they are not playing until Monday, the Patriots did not have to release a participation/injury report yesterday . . . Defensive end Andre Carter was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after he collected a franchise-record 4 1/2 sacks against the Jets. It was the first time Carter received the honor since his rookie season in 2001 with the 49ers . . . The NFL released early results from fan Pro Bowl voting, and Brady leads the AFC with 537,780 votes. He’s second in the league behind Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (589,801).

Julian Benbow can be reached at Monique Walker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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