Interim Coach Going With Orton vs. Packers

During a conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday, Kansas City Chiefs interim coach Romeo Crennel said he had benched Tyler Palko. If he's recovered from a dislocated index finger on his throwing hand, veteran Kyle Orton will start against Green Bay.

Tyler Palko is out and Kyle Orton is in – maybe – as the Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Interim Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel announced the change during a conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday. If Orton has recovered from a dislocated finger sustained during a flea-flicker against Chicago, he'll get the call. If not, it will be Ricky Stanzi, a fifth-round pick out of Iowa who has yet to throw a pass as a professional.

Palko replaced starter Matt Cassel during the Nov. 13 game against Denver. In starts against New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago and the New York Jets, Palko completed 75-of-127 passes (59.1 percent) for 749 yards, with two touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of 58.2. In those games, the Chiefs went 1-3 and scored a total of 32 points.

Orton was claimed off waivers from the Broncos on Nov. 24, six weeks after being benched following their 1-4 start. On Dec. 4, Orton replaced Palko during a game against Chicago. On his only play, he was hit by safety Major Wright and sustained a dislocated index finger on his throwing hand.

The veteran gives Crennel a chance to win and get the job on a full-time basis next season, and it gives the Chiefs some return on investment after picking up the remainder of his yearly salary: $2.58 million. He's started 66 games – with a 33-33 record. Moreover, he has a deep knowledge base on the Packers and their aggressive defensive scheme.

Orton started Denver's 49-23 loss at Green Bay in Week 4, completing 22-of-32 passes for 273 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. A fourth-round pick out of Purdue in 2005 by Chicago, Orton has started five games against Green Bay. He's completed 54.7 percent of his passes, averaged 144.0 yards, with five touchdowns, six interceptions and a rating of 66.2. While the numbers aren't impressive, he's 3-2 in those games.

"It helps that he's an experienced quarterback and has played in the NFL and played against Green Bay," Crennel said. "He's seen a lot of things. The rookie hasn't seen nearly as much. Not that the rookie isn't capable, but he is a rookie. Over my years in this league, rookies will make some mistakes. They're going to make some plays and all of that, but they're going to make some mistakes."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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