The Kansas City Chiefs have placed quarterback Matt Cassel on injured reserve shortly before Monday night's game against the New England Patriots with a hand injury, ending his season, according to reports.
Cassel had surgery on his right throwing hand on Nov. 14 after being injured one day earlier in a 17-10 loss to Denver in Week 10. Coach Todd Haley said that there is no ligament damage, though, which means that Cassel's recovery time will be quicker during the offseason.
Cassel, a 2010 Pro Bowl alternate for his old Patriots teammate and mentor Tom Brady, finished his 2011 campaign as Chiefs starter throwing for 1,713 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a completion percentage of 59.5.
Now, Tyler Palko, who has thrown only 13 NFL passes, is first on the depth chart at quarterback with rookie Ricky Stanzi as the backup. The Chiefs filled Cassel's roster spot with wide receiver Jeremy Horne, who has played in six games with the Chiefs in 2010 and 2011.
The Chiefs and Patriots on Monday met for the first time since Sept. 7, 2008 when Cassel, then with the Patriots, filled in at QB after Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter when he was hit by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. Cassel led the Patriots to a 17-10 win that day, completing 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown, subsequently becoming the Patriots starting QB.
Although the Chiefs have a tough remaining schedule-playing the Steelers, Bears, Jets, Packers, Raiders and Broncos in the final six weeks of the season-and the AFC West race is tight, Cassel's loss only seems to minimize the team's chance of making the playoffs even more so than the chances it had with Cassel at the helm.
Surely general manager Scott Pioli will be debating with himself after Cassel's placement on IR whether or not Cassel has done enough in his three years in Kansas City to remain the starter in 2012. Cassel, who signed a six-year, $62.7 million contract with the Chiefs in 2009, is 18-21 with 53 TDs and 32 INTs as their starter.