Cassel, Flowers Still Uncertain For Sunday

It's the first Red Friday of 2009, and fans all over Kansas City, and the Midwest for that matter, are sporting a jersey, Chiefs sweatshirt, or some other form of fan paraphernalia. Perhaps some are even prepping their red and gold painted buses for the trip to Arrowhead that awaits them Sunday.

If you're setting out your clothes for the game (zubaz pants, KC Wolf ears, Neil Smith band-aid) and you can't decide which jersey to go with - maybe you're wrestling between number 7 or 12 - it looks like your best option may be something a little more neutral, like 27 or 94. That's because head coach Todd Haley has still not announced his starting quarterback for Sunday's game against Oakland. Also, steer clear of jersey number 24.

"I think it's safest for us (to make it a game time decision), if I make a promise now and something doesn't go according to plan or vice versa," said Haley. "Both those guys (Brandon) Flowers and Matt (Cassel), I think they're both clearly ahead of where they were last week at this time, so that's positive. This will be a deal where we're going to have to make sure they're good to go. Make it probably Sunday morning."

The decision on whether to suit up Flowers and Cassel goes deeper than most fans think. An NFL game day roster allows only 45 players. If Cassel and Flowers are active but aren't 100 percent ready to go, Haley knows he runs the risk of hamstringing his team for the rest of the game.

"These are both guys that play critical spots, and you have the game day roster to think about," he said. "If the guy is in there for one play and something goes wrong, quarterback or corner, now you're really short a player for the whole day. That's what makes these decisions tough. Everybody wants to see Matt Cassel play. Everybody wants to see Brandon Flowers, but if you risk it, then put them up and something happens early where they have a setback, now you're short players, and in a game like last week where it's warm and the defense is playing a lot of plays, that would have been a bad situation."

Last week, many predicted Cassel would start. But not only were they wrong, so was Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh. There's a chance Cassel is under center for the first snap this weekend. If that's the case, now that he's been riding the pine for three weeks, will he have some rust to shake off?

"I think for sure," said Haley. "We've made some pretty drastic changes around here offensively. That includes terminology and some words and things, that even though he was in the meetings and all that it's not quite the same when you're out there and you're going through the huddle and having to break the huddle and knowing what it is. So I'd say it set him back a little bit, so he's got to accelerate himself and study extra and put extra time in to catch up, but it's a learning curve for everybody out there offensively."

Though he wasn't sidelined due to a health issue like Cassel and Flowers last week, Derrick Johnson is a player who, for the vast majority of the offseason, was expected to start and contribute immediately this year. However, Johnson had seemingly fallen into Haley's bad graces. When Johnson intercepted Baltimore's Joe Flacco and raced 70 yards deep into Ravens territory last week, most fans thought that play would be enough to win his starting job back, but his name still rests third on the depth chart at inside linebacker.

Has Johnson bought enough into the Haley way that he might garner more playing time this weekend?

"I think Derrick made a huge play for us in the game, there's no doubt about it now," said Haley. "He's had a good week of practice I would say. Again, the guys that are doing the things the way we want it done and we feel give us the best chance to win, then they'll be out there." Top Stories