Warpaint Roundtable – Offseason Edition IX

This week we talk quarterbacks, more quarterbacks, even MORE quarterbacks and training camp battles.

Does Brodie Croyle enter camp as the unquestioned starter? If he has a similar exhibition season compared to last year, and Tyler Thigpen plays lights out, is Croyle still the starter?

Nick Athan: There is no doubt that he enters camp as the starter. Even if Thigpen plays lights out, Herm Edwards isn't likely to go with him at this point. Chan Gailey has spent the offseason designing an offense that centers around Croyle's talents.

Now if he struggles, I would not be surprised to see Thigpen midway through the season. But I think the Chiefs will give Croyle 16 games to show what he can or can't do. Edwards and Gailey will put better talent around him, especially on the offensive line, so that alone should be enough to evaluate his abilities.

Michael Ash: I think Croyle will come in as the starter, but it will depend on what kind of camp both quarterbacks have. If Croyle is clearly ahead of Thigpen, the job is his no matter what. But if Thigpen is right there with Croyle during camp, and then impresses in the first preseason game while Brodie struggles, they'd have a decision to make about how much time Thigpen should get with the starters in the next game. From there, the job might be there for him to win it.

C.E. Wendler: Everything we've heard says Croyle enters camp as the starter. I suspect no matter how poorly he plays, or how well Thigpen plays, Croyle will receive the majority of the reps throughout camp and the preseason in order to prepare him for the regular season (remember, last camp Croyle was splitting time with Damon Huard). Thigpen won't get enough playing time with starters for anyone to truly evaluate him as a #1 quarterback.

I think Huard is a great backup quarterback. Do you guys think Huard has anything left in the tank? Would you go into the season and feel comfortable with him as your #2?

Where does Damon Huard fit in Kansas City?
Jamie Squire

Nick Athan: Huard was the offensive line's whipping boy in 2007 and was beaten like a drum, but he never quit or complained. I would ask him how he was feeling all the time and he always said he was fine. That was despite ice packs on his shoulders, ace bandages holding his rips together, two taped ankles and a sore elbow.

So yes, he can be the backup for the Chiefs this year and should be 100 percent healthy and ready to go if he's called upon. But will he be called upon? I'd say it's probable if Croyle struggles, but Tyler Thigpen will get some reps instead of Huard. Either way, Huard is the ultimate insurance policy going into 2008.

Michael Ash: If the Chiefs were going to compete for something this year, I'd be OK with Huard as the backup. But they're a rebuilding team and they've made finding a young quarterback a primary goal - where does Huard fit into that? I think his main value to the team at this point would be as a mentor to Croyle and Thigpen.

That's important to keep in mind when we aren't exactly sure about the coaching Croyle and Thigpen are receiving. Incidentally, I understand that Dick Curl has a new bestseller out – "Great NFL QBs I've Developed." You can find it at your local bookstore next to "Super Bowls & Me: 20 Years of Success," by Carl Peterson.

C.E. Wendler: If you've been paying attention to anything I've written over the last couple of years, you know I have a ton of respect for Damon Huard. Like Jason Whitlock wrote earlier this offseason, someday football scientists will attempt to discover how Huard won four games behind KC's offensive line last season. I don't blame him in the least for the team's struggles a year ago.

Huard is the perfect backup quarterback for the Chiefs. He'll teach Croyle and Thigpen about two of the most important aspects of NFL quarterbacking – preparation and toughness. Both of those have come into play the last two seasons while Huard was under center.

NFL.com has us as the bottom dwellers in our division for this year. Is it good to be underestimated?

Nick Athan: I still maintain the Chiefs are a better team than the Oakland Raiders, so I'll give them third at the moment. I do believe with a little luck, a weak schedule, and a few breaks along the way that this team could make a run for second place behind San Diego.

The Raiders outspent everyone, but I can't see them winning more than five games this year. The Broncos had another odd offseason and the Chargers did nothing in free agency or the NFL Draft. This division isn't the worst, but it's not the best, either. The Chiefs are not the worst team in the AFC West.

Michael Ash: It depends on how much stock the players put into that sort of thing. Veterans feeling disrespected might use it as motivation, but a team of mostly young players may be more focused on just doing their jobs their first time out. They might not even pay attention to it.

C.E. Wendler: Herm Edwards has been playing the underdog role his whole life. No one thought he would make it to the NFL when he was young. He was undrafted coming out of college. Talking heads never mention him among the elite head coaches in the NFL.

Count on Herm using the lack of respect the media has given the Chiefs this offseason as a huge motivational tool. They just might sneak up on a few folks. Good things happen when you get a bunch of young, hungry kids together and get them all on the same page playing for each other.

What do you think about bringing in Daunte Culpepper?

Nick Athan: Last year I think he was worth the risk, but not so much in 2008. He's going to be on an NFL roster this season, but it's not going to be in KC unless Huard goes down with an injury or is cut. Culpepper is done in the big show as a starter. He can fill in for a game or two but not an entire season. Even if he was signed I can't see him beating out Croyle or Thigpen.

Would the Chiefs sign Daunte Culpepper
Jamie Squire

Michael Ash: If the Chiefs were looking at forfeiting a game because they didn't have a healthy quarterback on the roster, then yes. Otherwise, he's north of 30 and suffered a serious injury a few years ago. He doesn't fit into the team's plans at all.

C.E. Wendler: I think it's a great idea. Daunte Culpepper should be KC's starting quarterback this year. He'd make beautiful music with Dwayne Bowe, a few people would predict a playoff berth for the Chiefs, fans everywhere would cry out in agony, and the media circus would be a hoot.

I hate to mention Jason Whitlock's name twice in one roundtable (hey, he's entertaining), but man, he'd have a field day with such a signing. On second thought, after seeing the way the Chiefs pass blocked a year ago, Culpepper might refuse to sign with Kansas City.

What do you think will be the most exciting/intriguing position battle in the preseason?

Nick Athan: No doubt it will be along the offensive line. The Chiefs have eight guys in camp competing for two starting spots. Brian Waters, Branden Albert and Damion McIntosh represent three-fifths of the formula. I've been told that the best five guys will line up in front of Croyle. If the starting line hasn't been set in stone by the middle of preseason than that means one of two things – one, they can't decide on the final two spots, or two, the competition is so good that the Chiefs feel they have two solid candidates and several good backups.

Michael Ash: I'm most interested in seeing how the right side of the offensive line will shake out, but I don't think position battles at guard and tackle will lead to much preseason excitement. The battle at cornerback could be interesting, though, with both starting spots likely up for grabs. We could see players going all out to make interceptions, deliver big hits, and make plays as they hope to make their mark.

C.E. Wendler: Wide receiver, no question. Devard Darling, Jeff Webb, Bobby Sippio, Will Franklin and a smorgasbord of other young, unproven players are all competing for that #2 spot. Darling wants to prove he was worth that free-agent contract, Webb wants to prove he learned something from that playing time last year and Sippio is just hoping to break into the NFL. We'll see no lack of effort from any of these kids. It's going to be fun to watch.

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