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Young defenders provide silver lining

After losing their starting quarterback as well as the game, there isn’t much for the Chiefs to take away from this one in a positive context. One thing they can be happy about though is the encouraging play of two of their young defenders, OLB Justin Houston (+2.8) and FS Kendrick Lewis (+2.3). The rookie Houston played the most snaps in any single game he’s played yet, and took advantage of the opportunity by turning in his first game graded in the green. He made four defensive stops, beating Broncos tight ends with ease to close on the ball carrier. Three of the four players that saw at least one snap at tight end for the Broncos were graded negatively on at least one play thanks to Houston. Second-year safety Lewis had his best game of the season with a missed tackle being his only negative play in the game. He broke up two of the eight passes Tebow attempted, including a deep attempt to Eric Decker and also made a defensive stop in the run game.

“There’s so much that goes into playing quarterback, from studying all week to understanding what everyone has to do on every play, at least in my mind, I don’t have any time to think about it,” said Palko, the son of a high school coach. “When I get in there and the lights are on, you’ll have a ‘Wow, this is really happening moment,’ but until then, I don’t have time to think about that stuff.”

Nick Caserio, who was elevated to the position of Patriots personnel director after Pioli’s departure, stressed the important role Pioli played in his own climb up the personnel ladder.

“Scott hired me back in June 2001, so obviously he had a lot of [influence] — just how to approach it day to day,” Caserio said. “Scott’s a very meticulous, very detailed-oriented person, and I think those are qualities, departmentally, that we’ve tried to keep in place with the things that we do. Scott worked hard at his job, he’s really smart, so you just try to observe and watch people in position and try to do the right things along the way. Whomever you work for, you always take a little bit of everybody with you and you try to utilize different things along the way.

Haley set the precedent last season when Matt Cassel and Brodie Croyle were the only two quarterbacks on the Chiefs 53-man roster for the majority of the year. It wasn’t until Cassel underwent an emergency appendectomy in December that the team promoted Tyler Palko from the practice squad.

Keeping the third quarterback on the practice squad wasn’t an option this year when Palko held off Stanzi during a training camp battle for the primary backup job to Cassel.

“We were so glad that Leonard agreed to come and share his story today,” noted Stephanie Snyder, the Aquatics Director at the Cleaver Family YMCA. “It was important to make sure that everyone knows there are ways to prevent these types of accidental drownings.”

Following the program, the children and adults in attendance had the opportunity to sign up for swimming classes at The Y. It’s something that Pope hopes everyone takes the opportunity to do.

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