Chiefs QB Thigpen to start vs. Falcons
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tyler Thigpen, the first player from Coastal Carolina selected in the NFL draft, will be the first to start at quarterback.
The 24-year-old Thigpen will be under center on Sunday for Kansas City when the Chiefs go to Atlanta. It will be exactly 11 months after the struggling young Chiefs (0-2) last won a game.
A 23-8 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, in which Thigpen came off the bench and finished 14-for-33, was their 11th straight regular-season defeat.
"For what we're trying to do, I think he can do a good job of it," coach Herm Edwards said. "He'll be limited in some things but we want to take a look at him."
After coming in for Damon Huard against Oakland, Thigpen looked every bit like the inexperienced second-year pro that he is and sent several passes glancing off the hands of defensive backs.
But he appeared to settle down and eventually hit tight end Tony Gonzalez with a short touchdown pass and converted the two-point conversion. He also threw an interception and finished 14-for-33 for 151 yards.
"He's another young player, a quarterback we want to look at, see where he's at. If he struggles, obviously Damon comes in," Edwards said.
Brodie Croyle, the strong-armed but injury-prone young quarterback the Chiefs are hoping to build around, has a separated shoulder and will be out at least one more week and possibly more. Huard, a 12-year veteran and the only quarterback in Kansas City who has won in the NFL, made the start against the Raiders but came out in the first half with a sore neck.
Now Huard is OK, but Thigpen will join several inexperienced young Chiefs who are getting a cram course in the NFL.
"We're trying to look at young players, it's part of the process," Edwards said. "Is [Thigpen] a two? Is he a one? Is he always going to be a three? You don't know until they play, until they have an opportunity to play."
With 15 rookies and 32 players of three years of experience or less, the Chiefs are the NFL's youngest team. Branden Albert, a rookie, will start at left tackle and be tasked with protecting Thigpen from Atlanta's John Abraham, who has four sacks in two games. Both starting cornerbacks and a starting defensive tackle are also rookies.
The more seasoned Huard would seem to provide a better opportunity for victory. But Edwards bristled at the suggestion the Chiefs have decided to sacrifice wins in order to develop young players.
"We're not trying to discard the season. We're not trying to not win any football games," he said.
"We're the youngest team in football. We know that. But we're trying to develop our plan. We're trying to build a football team, and it's hard. It's not a lot of fun. We're going to try to beat the Falcons. We feel with what we're trying to do this week, we'll have a great chance to be successful."
Thigpen helped Coastal Carolina launch its Football Championship Subdivision program. In 41 games with the Chanticleers, he completed 486-of-879 passes for 6,598 yards, with 53 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. He was the first player from his school selected as a consensus All-American.
Drafted by Minnesota in the seventh round in 2007, he was claimed off waivers and threw only six passes for the Chiefs last season, completing two. This year during the preseason, he was 25-of-54 for 282 yards and two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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