It was going to be a homecoming of sorts for Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel Monday night when the Chiefs come to Gillette Stadium.
That is, until he suffered an injury to his right throwing hand, requiring surgery that will possibly end his season.
That means the QB duties are passed over to … Tyler Palko.
Not familiar with him? Neither are the Patriots.
Palko is 9-of-13 for 82 passing yards and no touchdowns for his career, spanning four teams. His only four career appearances came with the Chiefs this season and in 2010.
“He’s a player we have to do some work on and spend more time watching him,” Bill Belichick said. “We, of course, haven’t seen a lot of him in regular-season game film. We can go back to preseason. I’d say an athletic player, quick release, can move around back there in the pocket, left-handed, and sees the field pretty well.”
Palko finds himself in a similar situation that Cassel did when he took over for Brady in New England. Cassel and the Pats surprised a lot of doubters back then.
“Everybody wrote us off in 2008 when we lost Tom [Brady] and Matt [Cassel] led us to 11 wins,” Belichick said. “We’re playing against a football team, not just one player. We know that whoever they have in there, whether it’s Palko, [Ricky] Stanzi or whoever it is, that we’re going to have to play a good football team.”
Palko, a three-year starter at the University of Pittsburgh, will go from career backup to Monday Night Football spotlight.
“He played well in the preseason for them and I think he completed over 60 percent of his passes in preseason,” Personnel director Nick Caserio said. “He runs the offense, accurate with the football, can get rid of it [and] has an understanding of what they’re trying to do.”