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Huard gets start vs. Raiders; Thigpen to see playing time

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Coach Herm Edwards is hinting that the Kansas City Chiefs may go with some sort of two-quarterback system while Brodie Croyle is sidelined with a separated shoulder.

Backup Damon Huard will start this week against the Raiders, relieving an injured Kansas City quarterback for the third time in three years. But Edwards made clear that third-teamer Tyler Thigpen, who was waived by Minnesota last September and has attempted only six passes in the NFL, will also get on the field in the next few weeks.

Might he start the following week at Atlanta?

"He'll get to play. Whether he starts, we'll determine that," Edwards said. "But he is going to play. You don't have to worry about that."

Asked directly if he was talking about a two-quarterback system, Edwards replied, "I'm just saying he's going to play."

Croyle, the oft-injured third-year pro, was hurt in Sunday's 17-10 loss at New England and will be out two to four weeks.

Rather than go with two quarterbacks while Croyle is injured, the Chiefs signed Ingle Martin off the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans Wednesday.

Martin was a 2006 draft pick of the Green Bay Packers. The Titans, ironically, were one of three NFL teams who lost their starting quarterbacks in their opening game on Sunday.

Huard, a 12-year veteran, came in for Croyle in the first quarter and nearly pulled out a huge upset against the heavily favored Patriots. He is a proven performer. But he's not as young, quick or mobile as Croyle and Thigpen and the Chiefs revamped their offense this year to make use of things like rollouts and bootlegs. With Huard, the offense will have to be reined in.

Thigpen, 24, is a much better fit for the Chiefs' new system. Plus, he's a second-year player, and the Chiefs are committed to rebuilding through youth.

"There are some things we do offensively that Tyler and Brodie do very well," Edwards said. "There are some things Damon can do that offsets what they do. When Tyler plays, it's a little bit different than when Damon plays."

Croyle's inability to stay on the field is becoming worrisome. Since taking over as the starting quarterback last year, he's had three injuries in seven games.

The Chiefs' patience could be wearing thin. They can hardly expect to build a championship-caliber team through youth without developing a quarterback.

"When you build your offense, you build it around that guy basically, you try to build a system that he can handle and be successful in," Edwards said. "So when they miss time, that's bothersome."

Edwards will not agree with critics who say Croyle is injury-prone. But he did concede there could be a point when the Chiefs conclude that building an offense around him would be too big a gamble.

"There's a point in time for that," Edwards said. "I don't think we're at that point."

The Chiefs went into this season hoping this would be the year that Croyle makes his breakthrough. He has an exceptionally strong arm and seems to possess the natural leadership everyone desires in a quarterback.

"You look at quarterbacks, generally when a guy's in his third year, that's kind of the year for most of these kids," Edwards said. "A lot of these guys in their third year, you're anticipating he's going to be a better player. That's the outlook we have for Brodie, too. We feel we're doing some things offensively now that he can do, that he can manage. Now we've got to keep him well and he's got to go play. That's the whole key."

Thigpen, who started 39 games at Coastal Carolina, was 2-for-6 for 41 yards in his only appearance last year after the Chiefs picked him up on waivers. He also had an interception. Apparently, the Chiefs considered giving him the start against Oakland before deciding to go with the more experienced Huard.

"It's just not fair to the kid, opening up at home. Trust me, he'll get his chances like all the rest of these young guys," Edwards said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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