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Though Cassel’s right hand remained heavily bandaged, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley offered tempered optimism regarding the quarterback’s ability to return this season.

“Everything went really well,” Haley said. “We’re just giving it as much time as we can to see exactly where he is.”

This week, with the hand injury to Matt Cassel, Stanzi also inherits the popularity that also goes along with being the No. 2 quarterback. He takes it from Tyler Palko, who will start Monday night’s game against the Patriots in New England.

“Now I think Ricky wears that hat,” Palko said. “Ricky’s the most popular guy, and I’m probably going to be the most hated guy.”

Brady had nothing but high praise for the 4-5 Chiefs, who will be without starting quarterback Matt Cassel on offense, but remain solid on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s a very good team,” Brady said. “Defensively, they’re very well coached. We’ve been around Romeo [Crennel] for a long time so, we have a decent understanding of what he does but we haven’t played these guys in a while. They have some very good players defensively and we need really a good week so we can go out there and be very well prepared and play with confidence, play with anticipation, try to go out there and execute well.”

The Chiefs picked up the western Pennsylvania native in 2010. Now 28, his mop-up duty in two seasons with Kansas City has yielded a 9 for 13, 82-yard career stat line.

“I’m not a big quote guy, but this thing is a marathon and not a sprint and sometimes you have to scrape the bottom before you can reap the benefits,” Palko said on a conference call yesterday.

“Whether you want to be a teacher, a garbage man, whatever you want to do – there’s no blueprint on getting where you want to go,” he added. “There are obstacles, there’s adversity you need to overcome and it’s just the way life is.”

Tyler Palko will be under center against the Patriots, making his first career start. He’ll hand off to Jackie Battle, a special teams standout thrust into the role of the feature back. And if the Chiefs’ struggling offensive line gives Palko enough time to throw, his best option off the line of scrimmage is Leonard Pope, who has all of 16 catches for 115 yards this season.

No wonder the Kansas City offense is among the worst in the NFL.

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