Despite reports out of Kansas City that Matt Cassel could lose his starting job – or at least a few snaps – to backup Brady Quinn, the Ravens intend to prepare as if Cassel will be the starting quarterback for Sunday's game.
"I do – until the coaches tell us something different," outside linebacker Paul Kruger said. "I think you just prepare your best for the both of them. It looks like we're going to see Cassel, but who knows?"
"You prepare for their starter," inside linebacker Jameel McClain said. "You prepare for their offensive coordinator. You don't prepare for anything else."
Asked if that meant that he expected to see Cassel under center, McClain said, "I definitely go in there with the mindset that Matt Cassel is the starter because he is."
Cassel's grip on the starting job has become even more tenuous because of his performance in 2012. He is responsible for 10 of the Chiefs' NFL-worst 15 turnovers, including seven interceptions. And his passer rating of 70.4 is better only than Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets (69.6) and a pair of rookies in Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins (66.4) and Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns (60.4).
Perhaps not coincidentally, Kansas City is 1-3. Chants for Quinn and Ricky Stanzi were heard during the team's 37-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium this past Sunday.
Coach Romeo Crennel declined to elaborate on the quarterback controversy during a conference call with Baltimore media, saying, "I'm not going to discuss a short leash or anything like that. I'm just going to try to give my team the best chance to win."
But he did tell Kansas City reporters Monday that Quinn may get some of the snaps with the first offense in practice this week as the team prepares for the Ravens.
"At some point, as a coach, you go through and you see what's happening in the game and how a guy is reacting and how he's responding to what's happening in the game," Crennel said as quoted by The Kansas City Star. "If you feel he's inept, constantly making poor decisions, bad choices, then that's when you move on from him and give someone else a chance."
Quinn has not played in a regular-season game since 2009. That inexperience would seem to give Cassel the edge, but inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said the defense would view Cassel and Quinn as interchangeable parts.
"[W]e're still going to treat them the same," Ellerbe said. "We're still going to try to get after him and we're still going to try to move him out of the pocket. We're just going to try to flush him."
Coach John Harbaugh said the defense will study Quinn, but Cassel will be that unit's primary focus.
"Matt Cassel is not to be underestimated by any stretch," Harbaugh said. "He's put together great seasons, he's put together great games. he knows that offense, that New England-style offense that they run there. He's got all the ability, and we're going to deal with Matt Cassel – that's the starter."