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Three years ago the little-known career backup, Matt Cassel, stepped in after the injury to a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Three years ago, it was Cassel who led the Patriots to an 11-5 record — including an undefeated December.
Three years ago, it was Cassel who became a fan favorite in New England after his 3,693 yard and 21 touchdown performance.
So, naturally the mood would be light on Monday night when Cassel and his Chiefs travel to Foxborough. Cassel’s first appearance at Gillette Stadium, since a Dec. 21, 2008 47-7 win over Arizona.
Not so fast.
Chiefs head coach Todd Haley told reporters that Cassel’s hand injury, which occurred in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos Sunday, is significant and he will need surgery. Haley said that Tyler Palko will start for Kansas City.
A big blow for the 2005 seventh-round draft choice by the Patriots.
Since arriving in Kansas City, Cassel has passed for 7,753 yards and 32 touchdowns. Last season, Cassel led the Chiefs to the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
In July 2009, Cassel signed a six-year $63 million contract with the Chiefs. The Patriots traded Cassel, along with veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel, to Chiefs in return for a 2009 second round pick (Patrick Chung) in February 2009.
Palko, Cassel’s replacement, has completed nine passes since being signed as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 2007. The Chiefs also have 2011 fifth round pick Ricky Stanzi from Iowa. Stanzi has yet to play a down this season, but does offer a stronger arm and possess bigger size over Palko.