Chiefs still looking for a leader

Trent Green’s departure sparked an ongoing quarterback battle.
Thursday, August 16, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:33 p.m. CDT, Friday, June 27, 2008

KANSAS CITY, — Will they cheer their team’s all-time top-rated passer? Or will they boo a guy who complained he wasn’t getting a fair chance to keep his job and then wrangled a drawn-out trade to Miami?

Trent Green says he doesn’t know. But Kansas City coach Herm Edwards believes he knows how Chiefs fans will greet their old quarterback tonight, when he returns to Arrowhead Stadium in a Dolphins uniform.

“He will get a good ovation when he comes home, and he should because he has done a lot for the city of Kansas City,” said Edwards. “He’s been a pro, he’s in the community. As a player, it will be good to see him. I haven’t seen him in a while.”

Ironically, the Dolphins and Chiefs will both be trying to sort out quarterback issues in their second preseason game.

Green, who did not play well in Saturday’s 18-17 victory over Jacksonville, will start and play the first quarter, the Dolphins said. Cleo Lemon, who is battling Green to be the starter, will play the second quarter. Rookie John Beck and backup Gibran Hamdan will play the second half.

Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard, who both had games to forget in last week’s 16-12 loss to Cleveland, will alternate for the Chiefs. Huard, 5-3 as a starter last year while Green recovered from a severe concussion, will start the first half. Croyle, a second-year pro with a rifle arm, will go the second half.

Green is taking a philosophical approach toward his return.

“I’m just going to let it happen, and we’ll see. I had a great six years there and enjoyed it,” he said. “My family enjoyed it. It was a great experience for us as a family, and I’m just happy to be down here.

“I’m here now. I’m a Dolphin.”

The Chiefs will still be without Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson, who has sat out all training camp in a contract dispute. But that has just meant more practice time for backup Michael Bennett and rookie Kolby Smith, who has been unusually impressive for a fifth-round draft pick.

While no one doubts that Johnson will eventually sign and step back into his role as the No. 1 running back, mystery over the starting quarterback remains.

Edwards has said the would like to be near a decision by the third preseason game. That would suggest this could be an important outing for Huard, 34, and Croyle, 24.

“At the end of the day, we will make a decision, and if it’s this week, it’s this week. If it’s not, it’s not,” Edwards said. “It’s going to be one of those situations where whoever you decide to go with, you’ve giving them the opportunity to be the starter and you’re giving them enough reps to prove that he can be a starter.”

Still, Edwards agreed that any coach would feel much better having his starting quarterback emerge by the third preseason game.

“The third game is the one when all the veteran guys are going to have to play the first half and then possibly the third quarter,” he said. “I’m not going to put pressure on either one of the quarterbacks or myself — or the team — to say, ‘This is the guy.’ I want to make the right decision. I am very patient.”

The Dolphins will be keeping an eye on the offensive line, which has been unsettled all summer and took another blow last week when Vernon Carey was injured.

Carey, the Dolphins’ starting left tackle, injured his right knee in the first quarter. He was able to walk off the field unaided.

“I think we’re starting to settle down now,” said Green. “If you look at who they had in the game and who we’ve been practicing with this week, it seems like some of those spots are beginning to solidify. I think that’s only going to help, because you start getting continuity among players, continuity in the huddle and your communication in the line as the play’s going on in terms of the calls they make. I think those are all positives, and as camp progresses, that will continually get better.”

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