Injury problems raising concerns about Croyle's role with Chiefs

Updated: December 26, 2007, 6:12 PM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A bruised right hand may stop Brodie Croyle from playing against the New York Jets on Sunday, and concern is growing that Kansas City's strong-armed young quarterback might be too frail for the NFL.

Croyle was listed as questionable after taking limited snaps in practice Wednesday. Veteran Damon Huard could start as the Chiefs (4-11) try to halt an eight-game losing streak in their season finale at Giants Stadium.

"He's a lot better than he was," coach Herm Edwards said. "He threw the ball a little bit. But he was limited. We'll see where he's at tomorrow."

Finding out if Croyle was the quarterback the team could start building around was one of Kansas City's goals this season. But he didn't play well enough in the preseason to beat out Huard. When he did become the starter after Huard was knocked woozy, he missed time with a deep bruise in his back.

It was a reputation for being injury prone that caused Croyle to drop to the third round of the 2006 draft. Now, although he has a strong arm and a quick release, his tendency to get hurt is causing the Chiefs to have second thoughts.

Will Kansas City use its first-round pick next April on a quarterback?

"That's something that's going to be decided in the offseason, when the draft's coming up," Edwards said. "Right now ... we feel like he could be a good quarterback for us. We drafted him. We want to develop him. He's still in that mode of being developed.

"His whole thing will be: Is he available? Your quarterback has to be available."

In eight games, including five starts during the Chiefs' ongoing skid, Croyle has hit 107 of 181 passes for 1,032 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions, a rating of 70.5. Croyle has started five games and was 9-for-12 for 69 yards in Detroit last week, when he bruised his hand trying to stop a defender from running an interception in for a touchdown.

"He's gotten better," Edwards said. "He's done some things better, but he still has a long ways to go. You anticipate when you put a young quarterback in there that they're going to throw interceptions. They all do that."

At Alabama, Croyle was frequently injured, but still threw for 6,382 yards with 41 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for a 128.4 rating.

Evaluating his performance is also difficult because the offense overall has been so woeful. Larry Johnson, Kansas City's star running back, missed the entire second half of the season with a foot injury.

"We've got to build people around him, too," Edwards said. "We lost our running back. It's not an excuse. But when you get behind and have to throw the ball, it puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and that puts the quarterback in a bad light, too. There's a lot of things we've got to do to improve this football team."

Croyle was not the only starter hampered by injuries as the Chiefs prepared to put an end to their worst season in 20 years. Also limited in practice were left tackle Damion McIntosh, linebackers Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris, and wide receiver Eddie Kennison.

Kansas City added quarterback Jeff Otis to its practice squad on Wednesday and may promote quarterback David Green from the practice squad if Croyle is not able to play. Green was excused from practice to attend his grandmother's funeral.

Otis entered the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2006 with Arizona and was released before the start of that season. He led the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europa to a World Bowl title in 2006 and attended training camp with Oakland in 2007. His father, Jim Otis, was a running back for Kansas City in 1971 and '72.

The Chiefs also said they had placed Johnson and cornerback Tyron Brackenridge on injured reserve and agreed to a three-year contract with tackle Travis Leffew and a one-year contract with linebacker Mickey Pimentel.

Pimentel, who originally joined Kansas City as a member of the practice squad on Dec. 12, was added to the 53-man roster.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press