KANSAS CITY — Damon Huard, who has spent his career backing up some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, is finally No. 1. Coach Herm Edwards said Saturday the 11-year veteran will start for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Huard hadn’t started a game since 2000 but went 5-3 last season after Trent Green was injured in the season opener. After Green demanded a trade to Miami this spring because he thought coaches planned to hand the job to Brodie Croyle, Huard spent the summer battling the second-year man from Alabama for the job.
Croyle, 24, apparently played himself out of contention by throwing an interception in each of three preseason games. Given a big opportunity Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints while Huard sat out with a calf injury, he hit only five of 17 passes for 45 yards as the Chiefs lost 30-7 and dropped to 0-3.
In making the announcement, Edwards was careful to say that he was confident Croyle would one day be the Chiefs’ starting quarterback.
“Brodie Croyle in my mind is going to be a good quarterback in this organization, no doubt about it,” Edwards said.
Opening with their first two games on the road, at Houston and Chicago, apparently weighed in favor of the more experienced Huard, who gained the respect of teammates in his eight starts a year ago.
“I just think we’ve exposed Brodie where we know what he is a lot more than we did last year. We know what Damon is because he has a history,” Edwards said. “When you weigh those things, you go into the opener and say, ’Hey, we’ve got to try to win the game.’ In my opinion, this gives us the best chance.”
Huard backed up Dan Marino in Miami and Tom Brady in New England before coming to Kansas City in 2004. He was one of the league’s biggest surprises last year when Green sustained a severe concussion in the season opener, winning five of his eight starts while throwing for 1,684. Most impressively, he threw only one interception while connecting on 11 touchdown passes for a 98.0 quarterback rating, second in the league only to Payton Manning’s 101.0.
“He’s a guy who’s weathered a lot of storms,” Edwards said. “And I go back to what he did last year for us. He came off the bench and performed very, very well. He managed the game. Didn’t turn the ball over a lot. That is very important, especially on the road.”
Huard was getting treatment on his calf injury Saturday and was not available for comment on the announcement.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s announcement might have been different if Croyle, a third-round pick out of Alabama in 2005, had played better against the Saints.
“Obviously, I didn’t show it in the game,” Croyle said. “I had the perfect opportunity to go out there and make my claim but I didn’t do it. I think they were sitting there kind of waiting for me to go do it, and I didn’t do it. Therefore, they don’t feel I’m ready to go. And we’ll just wait our turn.”
Croyle said he and Huard were both told about the decision Saturday morning before practice. Huard practiced very little and may not play on Thursday night when the Chiefs wrap up their preseason at St. Louis.
“Obviously, I wanted to be the starter,” Croyle said. “It didn’t work out that way. But we’ll get our shot at some point and when we do, we’ll make the most of it.”
The news that Huard had won the job apparently did not surprise the players.
“Damon definitely stepped up and did what he was asked to do last year,” said wide receiver Eddie Kennison. “This is a different year. Hopefully, he can continue doing those same things. We know he’s capable of doing it.”
Edwards also said running back Larry Johnson, who ended a 25-day holdout this week, may not play against the Rams on Thursday night.