xml:space="preserve">

OWINGS MILLS - Minutes into the first quarter, the Kansas City Chiefs' home crowd was already booing Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel.

Cassel had just thrown an interception only three plays into Kansas City's first offensive series of Sunday's 37-20 home loss to the San Diego Chargers.

The crowd's disgust with Cassel grew progressively louder throughout the game with each additional Cassel incompletion or interception.

Patience has grown thin for Cassel in Kansas City, both from the team's fan base and from coach Romeo Crennel.

Four seasons into the six-year, $63 million contract he signed with the Chiefs in 2009, Cassel has twice as many turnovers (10) as touchdown passes (5) and Crennel hinted during the week that backup Brady Quinn could see some action during Sunday's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.

But, for now, Cassel is still the starter. And given the weapons he has at wide receiver, the Ravens aren't discounting Kansas City's passing game.

Baltimore's pass defense is ranked fourth-worst in the NFL, yielding an average of 296 yards per game.

"You look at our defensive rank, and especially in the pass game we have to be better," Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said. "Especially in the secondary, we've got to better. We've got to be sound because [the Chiefs] have gamers. They have guys that can go out there and get it."

Cassel has thrown seven interceptions, but has thrown for an average of 265 yards per game and has tossed five touchdown passes.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, a Pro Bowler in 2010, leads the Chiefs (1-3) in catches (25), yards (342) and touchdown catches (3).

The physical 6-foot-2, 220-pound Bowe has been targeted by Cassel 49 times through Kansas City's first four games, more than twice as much as any other Chiefs pass catcher. He was limited to three catches for 53 yards in Kansas City's opener, but has 22 catches for 289 yards and three scores the past three weeks.

"Bowe is a big-time receiver," Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said.

But the Chiefs also have another big target in second-year receiver Jon Baldwin, a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder with impressive speed and leaping ability, as well as a multi-dimensional weapon out of the slot in Dexter McCluster. Tight end Tony Moeaki is another proven pass-catcher.

Moeaki missed all of last season with a knee injury, but had 47 catches for 556 yards as a rookie in 2010. He has nine catches for 76 yards this year.

"They are big," Pees said. "Those guys are big receivers out there, and there's [McCluster] there in the slot, who is really quick. ... He's a guy that could run reverses, run screen passes. They have a ton of talent. They have good tight ends. This is a very, very talented offensive football team."

Baltimore is also aware of Cassel's mobility.

Cassel isn't Cam Newton by any means, but ran for 270 yards with the New England Patriots in 2008 and had a 21-yard run earlier this season that caught the attention of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

"I think one thing that people don't talk about with Cassel is how he uses his legs an awful lot," Lewis said. "He can run way better than people think he can. He extends plays.

"But he's the type of quarterback, if you let him sit in the pocket, he can make a day hard for you. He's got a lot of weapons around him. ... And [if] you take away the turnovers and things, they're doing an awfully great job with their offense."

Reach staff writer Matt Zenitz at 410-857-7896 or matt.zenitz@carrollcountytimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @mzenitz.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement