Cassel In Command

It's evident that Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel is already accepting a leadership role. A gym rat who likes to draw up plays with his head coach, Cassel is not taking anything for granted. He's assuming nothing in his quest to be Kansas City's 2009 starter, and isn't worried over his contract situation.

With all the hoopla Friday over Brian Waters and Mike Vrabel showing up at mini-camp, Cassel was the forgotten man. Head Coach Todd Haley and even Cassel himself are talking about the quarterback position as an open competition, and Cassel actually prefers that. He welcomes the other quarterbacks pushing him to become better.

But Cassel is acting like the starting quarterback and despite his one errant throw in Saturday's practice, that led to an interception by cornerback Maurice Leggett, he's been dead on with most of his passes.

Today the media was focused on Cassel's long-term contract, or lack thereof. He admitted that he hopes to get one done soon, just to have that sense of security.

"You always love the fact that you have some stability and this, to me, isn't a one-year deal," said Cassel. "I want to come here and I want to build this team and work toward the common goal of getting better and making playoffs and winning championships."

Before Cassel came out to speak to the media Haley was grilled about his quarterback's talents. He didn't hold back praise, but was also quick to point out his lone turnover of the day.

"I think he's got some unique leadership qualities," said Haley. "I think his teammates like him and have respect for him. I think he's doing a pretty good job on the field, too."

"Now, he had a little blip today when he threw one to the other color jersey and the guy went the other way. But I think that's going to happen and we're still in the learning stages. Overall, I'm happy with his progress."

His relationship with his head coach is only one side of the equation for Cassel, however. He still has to earn the respect and trust of his teammates, but that doesn't seem to be much of an issue thus far. He may have already earned that trust based on comments from Dwayne Bowe and Devard Darling, two receivers who should see plenty of passes this season.

Cassel will have to get his timing down with both, and that may be something Haley's practices help him with. The Chiefs run the same passing drills at every practice, and Cassel is slowly getting comfortable.

"Like anything, everything's new to me," he said. "It's a new environment. It's new teammates. I'm getting to know the receivers, getting to know my linemen and my running backs and we're progressing. There's no doubt about that."

"Each and every day you just go out there and you try to build on stuff. Whether it's working on a route, whether it's a certain play, whether it's a concept you want to see. It's just building that rapport. That's something that comes with time. That's all it is. It's repetition and time."

The most fascinating revelation from today's practice however was Cassel, like former Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson, likes to draw up plays. He has ideas of his own and a desire to share them with Haley.

"When he's done working out he's upstairs bugging us," said Haley. "He's making drawings, coming up with ideas, wanting to talk football, all the time on top of working out real hard."

Does that mean Haley will let Cassel call plays on the field? There's no answer to that question for now, but Cassel is ready to do so if it's part of the offense.

"We'll see how it goes," he said. "I've been in a great system for the last few years. Obviously, when you've been in a system for so long you're comfortable with certain things and you're very familiar with certain routes. So, some of those things I would love to get implemented and be able to put into the offense and kind of know where I'm going with the ball."

It will be months before Cassel has the opportunity to call his own plays, though. For now, all that matters is learning the Chiefs' new offensive system. But is Cassel at all worried that the system doesn't include Randy Moss and Wes Welker, his former teammates in New England?

"I can't tell you what the future holds," he said. "But I can tell you we've got some good players here that can definitely go up and step up and make big-time plays. I know that I can play and if you turn on the film last year and watch any of those games, you know that it's not just those guys making plays. I'm going through my reads. I'm making the throws and I'm doing what I need to do to have success."

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