Arrowhead Report: Getting Palko up and running

Posted Dec 8, 2011

Chiefs believe Tyler Palko's rushing ability will become an asset as experience grows, plus other notes from Thursday.

Tyler Palko’s play has been picked apart plenty throughout his first three games as the Chiefs starting quarterback. The biggest bugaboo has obviously been the turnovers.

“I’ll be the first person to tell you that I’m not going to sit back and make excuses for interceptions or turnovers,” Palko said. “I mean that’s just inexcusable regardless of the fact, you still have to understand that those things gets you beat.”

After seven giveaways plagued his first two starts, Palko took a step in the right direction with a turnover-free performance in Chicago last Sunday.

Not coincidentally, the Chiefs emerged from Soldier Field victorious and Palko’s record as a starter moved to 1-2.

“Every week I’ve learned a lot, obviously some through mistakes and some through positive plays but every week I feel more comfortable,” Palko said. “I feel like I’m getting better and I feel like our offense is getting better so it’s just one of those things where sometimes you take your lumps and move forward.”

While Palko has weathered the criticism that goes with being an NFL starting quarterback, no one has questioned his athleticism or ability to make plays with his feet.

Sunday’s Hail Mary in Chicago was a prime example of Palko’s athleticism being able to keep a play alive.

After taking a seven-step drop, Palko bought more time by spinning out of his drop to redirect edge rushers before stepping back into the pocket to deliver what would be a 38-yard touchdown pass to Dexter McCluster.

“There are a lot of quarterbacks that when you watch them run the gassers and do agility and those things they look like they can really run,” head coach Todd Haley said. “And then the pads go on and all of a sudden they can’t run.

“I always joke with Kurt Warner about that, without pads and playing basketball he runs like the wind and then those pads go on, it might have been because he has the biggest pads in the world. But Tyler’s not like that, his speed and athleticism translates and that’s all a part of the process.”

Mobility is part of Palko’s game, but his rushing totals have been surprisingly low through his first three games as a starter.

Palko has shown the ability to evade pass rushers and sack totals have decreased since he’s taken over as the club’s starter, but he’s also been hesitant to tuck the ball and run. Palko has rushed just three times for -5 yards in his three starts under center.

By comparison, Matt Cassel ended his season with 25 rushing attempts for 99 yards. Cassel ran 33 times for 125 yards last season and 50 times for 189 yards in 2009.

Coming out of college, Palko posted a better speed and agility numbers than Cassel across the board. He also finished his collegiate career with 12 rushing touchdowns.

“It’s definitely a weapon that has been underutilized because he is fast and he is quick and he’s fast with the shoulder pads on,” Haley said

“But I think it’s easy for us to continue to push and say that when things don’t look good take off and run. When you’re sorting through trying to read, that’s one of those things that I really believe kind of comes with experience also.”

As Palko continues to gain more experience and confidence, his rushing numbers should definitely increase. He has all the physical tools to keep drives alive with his feet.

When that happens, it will add a new dimension to the Chiefs offense. Cassel rushed for 16 first downs over the course of 39 games as Kansas City’s starting quarterback. It’s a total that ranks 23rd amongst quarterbacks since 2009.

“It’s much like a stiff-arm when I talk to the guys running with the football,” Haley said. “It’s a weapon that everybody has, especially some bigger guys that have long arms and are strong but it’s not always utilized.

“It takes some time to get guys to use it but boy when you use it it’s a devastating weapon as a runner. So it’s just kind of working, going along here and trying to get better and that’s one of those things.”

DJ Talks Forte Hit

If Bears RB Matt Forte wouldn’t have suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee, Derrick Johnson’s big hit might have been more celebrated.

The play was highlight material for Johnson and offered a snapshot of the fine season he’s turned in thus far. Instead, the focus of the play has been on the unfortunate injury to the NFL’s leader in total yards from scrimmage.

Johnson explained the tackle Thursday afternoon following Chiefs practice.

“It was more of an instinctual deal,” Johnson said. “You never want to see a player go down, especially a good player like that who puts his heart into the game like he does, but it was a play where I think I was the last line of defense.

“I just used my God-given athleticism to get under the blocker and the good part about it was that I was strong enough to come back through and make the tackle against Forte.”

Forte has been ruled out of the Bears Week 14 matchup with Denver on Sunday. He had played in 60 consecutive games since being drafted in 2008.

Injury Report

Kyle Orton remained limited Thursday afternoon with his right index finger injury, but showed progress when he was able to take snaps over the course of practice.

The Chiefs also added Jovan Belcher to the injury report with a shoulder injury.

“I’m optimistic about him,” Haley said of Belcher.

Chiefs Injury Report

LB Demorrio Williams – Full Practice (Groin)

LB Jovan Belcher – Limited Practice (Shoulder)

QB Kyle Orton – Limited Practice (Right Finger)

C Casey Wiegmann – Limited Practice (Finger)

Jets Injury Report

Full Practice: OL Vlad Ducasse (Knee), RB Shonn Greene (Rib), LB David Harris (Ankle), WR Jeremy Kerley (Knee), DB Ellis Lankster (Lower Back), OL Nick Mangold (Ankle), LB Calvin Pace (Groin), LS Tanner Purdum (Lower Back), OL Matt Slauson (Knee), RB LaDainian Tomlinson (Knee), DL Mo Wilkerson (Shoulder)

Limited Practice: DL Marcus Dixon (Hip), RB Joe McKnight (Elbow)

Did Not Practice: DL Mike DeVito (Knee), OL Brandon Moore (Hip)

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