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Injury to QB Cassel looms over wounded, defeated Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The winless, worried and wounded Kansas City Chiefs launched a short work week Sunday while awaiting medical tests on quarterback Matt Cassel and cornerback Brandon Flowers.

Cassel limped off the field and out of sight after he was sacked on the third play of Saturday night's dismal 14-10 loss to Seattle, and the extent of his injury was uncertain. The same was true for Flowers, who returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown before hurting his shoulder early in the first half.

Wide receiver Devard Darling also was helped to the sideline in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury.

Coach Todd Haley said he would discuss the injuries "at a later date." A team spokesman said Sunday there might be additional information following a practice on Monday that figured to be tough and demanding following what was by far the most disappointing of Kansas City's three preseason losses.

"Really disappointing across the board for me," Haley said.

Fans hoping a new coach, general manager and quarterback would quickly erase the leftover memories of last season's 2-14 debacle already seem antsy. Following several misplays in the third quarter, the crowd at a less-than-full Arrowhead Stadium undergoing a $375 million renovation underwritten mostly by taxpayers let loose with a chorus of boos for the home team.

Backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen, who played most of the time last year because of injuries to first- and second-teamers, looked like his old self. Hampered by an ineffective offensive line, Thigpen was consistently unable to move the team.

"When you're (1 for 10) on third down, you're not getting it done at quarterback," Haley said. "There's just no way. Even if there are breakdowns at other places, the quarterback, it's his responsibility to move the chains. At (1 for 10), there really wasn't much good happening."

Brodie Croyle, fighting Thigpen for the No. 2 spot behind Cassel, who signed a six-year contract for $28 million guaranteed, did not play.

"That was just the direction we decided to go," Haley said.

Aside from a robust running game in the first quarter, the offense was almost entirely a dud. Defensively, there were some good spots. Rookie defensive end Tyson Jackson had a sack and tipped the pass that Flowers intercepted.

Special teams also were shaky. Rookie kicker Ryan Succop, who had been 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts the first two games, pulled a 28-yard kick in the second quarter and was short on a 53-yarder at the half. There was also a muffed punt and a kickoff that was nearly fumbled.

Punter Dustin Colquitt, apparently free of the injuries that dogged him last season, boomed his punts all night long, however.

Going back to the second preseason game of 2008, the Chiefs are 3-19.

"Change is hard," Haley said. "Change is painful, and this is one of those painful moments. Whenever you feel like you take a step back, it's disappointing. It's not demoralizing because we're going to be back to work and we're going to do everything in our power to get it the way we want it. Right now, it's not there."

Running back Jamaal Charles, who made his own contribution to the so-so special teams performance by muffing a punt, could understand his coach's frustration.

"I guess he's just tired of losing," Charles said. "We've been working hard, had a tough training camp. Everybody wants to win, and we keep losing. We need to put it together and get a win."

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