Chiefs’ Prospects Look Bright


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Jan 22, 2006
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Printers, Croyle provide hope for future at QB

The Kansas City Star

Maybe it’s an exaggeration to proclaim that Trent Green’s successor will be on display Friday when the Chiefs begin a three-day rookie camp.

But the Chiefs can’t be blamed for thinking that. After going more than a decade without a young quarterback who possessed even a modestly bright future, they suddenly have two.

So the race begins this weekend between former CFL star Casey Printers, who turns 25 next week, and third-round draft pick Brodie Croyle of Alabama, who is 23.

The two have wildly differing styles. Printers is an athlete who made his way as much with his feet as his arm while in Canada. Croyle has more of the traditional skills.

The Chiefs are hopeful that one — and maybe both — can, given time, get the job done.

“We’re going to run our offense,” Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. “We feel these two guys have the ability to do that. Both of these guys have the ability when the play breaks down. (Croyle) has the ability to slide. He has great feet in the pocket. He has great awareness with the ball in his hand when he’s moving in the pocket. Casey’s the same thing. He can run and has the ability to slide in the pocket and make plays.

“That’s what you want out of a quarterback. When the play breaks down and (things aren’t) on time, what do they do with the ball? Both of these kids have the ability to make a play when the play is broken down.”

If that were the only criteria, the Chiefs would go with Printers. Pop in a DVD from his time with the CFL’s British Columbia Lions and you won’t have to wait long for a highlight of Printers deftly escaping from one mess or another to either run or pass for a big play.

“The thing that’s amazing about Casey is his ability to make something out of nothing,” said Wally Buono, British Columbia’s coach and general manager. “His downfield vision while running around is unbelievable. That’s not something you can coach. You either have that ability or you don’t.

“Many times he could have run the ball and picked up 10, 15, 20 yards. But instead he would see our receiver with a step on the defender and he would lay the ball in there for an even bigger play.”

Printers’ story is similar to that of Kurt Warner, who in a short time went from grocery store stocker to Super Bowl winning quarterback with the Rams. Printers was buried on the Lions’ bench in 2004 when injuries to other quarterbacks forced him into the lineup.

Printers showed the Lions skills in games that they hadn’t seen from him in practice. He threw for 35 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards, ran for almost 500 more and was chosen the CFL’s most outstanding player.

That’s a long way from his days at TCU, where he played three seasons and was an option quarterback, and Florida A&M, where he played an undistinguished senior year.

But he flourished on the longer, wider CFL field.

“It’s a different game up here,” said British Columbia president Bob Ackles, a former NFL scout for several teams. “It’s such a wide-open game. For a quarterback like Casey, it was an ideal situation. We’ve got the big field, and he was able to get outside because he has the foot speed.”

That’s not to say Printers can’t be successful on a smaller NFL field, where enough mobility can get a quarterback out of trouble, but too much can put him on the injured list. With the Chiefs, he will have to make his living out of the pocket.

“There were games where he stood in the pocket and threw the football,” Buono said. “There were other games where he made his athleticism a big part of what he did. Obviously, his athleticism is his strength. But he can stay in the pocket, read the defense and make the good throw.”

Chiefs quarterback coach Terry Shea said the closest thing to Printers in the NFL in terms of style of play is Tennessee’s Steve McNair.

“Contrary to what a lot of people think about Casey, he doesn’t move to run,” Shea said. “He moves to throw. He’s got great balance, so he’s a tough guy to sack. But he can run and move the sticks with his feet.”

Printers has a strong arm, but he has problems with accuracy on shorter routes and touch passes. His temperament also raises issues.

“He’s excitable, emotional, and he can pick up the entire team that way,” Buono said. “He’s almost too emotional. You can’t get too up or too down when you’re the quarterback. Casey is very excitable. That’s his personality. We had to discuss not showing his disappointment. That affects not only himself but his teammates, too. I don’t know that it’s something he’s going to be able to control all the time.”

Printers might have the bigger upside, but also the bigger risk. That could explain why the Chiefs spent a third-round pick on Croyle.

He might be a safer choice, but he’s hardly a sure thing. Croyle’s durability is a concern after he missed part of his sophomore season because of a shoulder injury and most of his junior year because of torn knee ligaments.

At 6-feet-2 and 206 pounds, he also doesn’t have classic quarterback size. Otherwise, Croyle appears to have a lot of the necessary tools.

“He had the best feet of all the quarterbacks in the draft this year,” Shea said. “Vince Young has tremendous running skills, but this guy has great feet, as good as you can ask for. He has what we call quiet feet. He’s so efficient, like a ballerina. He can redirect his feet quickly in order to make his progressions.”

Croyle, who threw 190 straight passes without an interception last season, has better accuracy and touch than Printers. Croyle’s arm might not be as strong, but he appears able to make all of the necessary throws.

At Alabama, Croyle often saved his best for crucial situations. He led the Crimson Tide on three winning scoring drives in the final moments last season.

“I know our guys believed in him,” Alabama offensive coordinator Dave Rader said. “They wanted him to have the ball in his hands at the end of the game.”

The question now is whether the Chiefs will eventually want that.

“I’m just a guy that’s going to make plays for you, and hopefully a guy that they put ‘winner’ next to,” Croyle said. “If you’re a quarterback, that’s what you want. There are a ton of guys that can throw, there are a ton of guys that can run. But the intangibles you bring to the table really separate the good quarterbacks from the great ones.”
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