Chiefs QB Cassel improving, but playing status will be game-time decision

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel acts like he's ready to play. He hasn't missed a practice this week. He knows the game plan. He has said the right things, that he feels good enough to go.

Now it's up to the coaches.

"As long as I'm able to walk and get out there, I will be ready to go," Cassel said Thursday. "It's up to them to pull me back."

So does that mean Cassel will play in Sunday's season opener against the Baltimore Ravens? It's too early to tell.

Cassel sprained his left knee in the Chiefs' third preseason game Aug. 29, but he returned to practice Monday and was on the field the past two days. Though he's improving every day, Cassel has been limited in what drills he can participate in, leaving the coaches with a hazy plan against the Ravens and their rugged defense.

"I think this is something that will go down to the wire with the quarterback," first-year Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. "On game day, we'll still be trying to figure it out."

Cassel talks like he'll be able to play, given the chance. He has been wearing a brace since returning to practice and gradually become involved in more drills. He's also eager to show everyone what he can do after signing a six-year, $63 million contract with the Chiefs during the offseason.

"My knees feel pretty good, and I wouldn't be out there if I wasn't up for the challenge," Cassel said. "Ultimately, it's going to be up to the trainers to decide whether I'm ready to go, and it's up to coach to determine whether I should play."

Haley's decision isn't just limited to Cassel. He still doesn't know if Brodie Croyle or Tyler Thigpen will start at quarterback if Cassel isn't able to play.

Whoever it is, don't expect Kansas City's game plan to change all that much.

"I don't think a whole bunch (of change) really for any of those guys," Haley said. "It might be a little more (shot)gun, a little less gun, or there might be different things you do for different guys. But other than that, I think the game is, especially now ... it's Thursday and it's almost go time."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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