KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Returning to work on Monday with both their bodies and psyches battered and bruised has become the norm for the 1-6 Chiefs in this most forlorn of seasons.
They usually have some time to get things right in both areas but won’t have the luxury this week. The Chiefs play against the 3-4 Chargers on Thursday night in San Diego, and such a quick turnaround after Sunday’s 26-16 loss to Oakland is high on coach Romeo Crennel’s list of concerns.
“The big issue is trying to get the bodies to recover, and get the minds to recover so that we can go out to San Diego and play on Thursday night,” Crennel said. “That’s what the focus is, and that’s what we’re going to try to get done.”
It’s also a bad week to have indecision about a starting quarterback, but Crennel said he wasn’t certain whether Brady Quinn or Matt Cassel would go against the Chargers. Crennel indicated Quinn, who suffered a possible concussion against the Raiders, would start if he’s cleared medically.
Quinn was undergoing further tests Monday and had yet to receive that clearance. He was not at the walkthrough practice, leaving it likely that Cassel will be the starter in San Diego.
If Quinn winds up playing, he’ll do so with just one day of practice. The Chiefs will be on the practice field today and then travel Wednesday to San Diego.
“That’s all we’ve got,” Crennel said. “All of ’em are going to have to play with one practice. (Quarterback) is a critical position, but if the doctors say he’s healthy, why can’t he play with one practice?”
Playing against an AFC West opponent helps both teams prepare with the short week. The Chiefs lost to the Chargers 37-20 last month at Arrowhead Stadium.
“We know them, they know us,” Crennel said. “The preparation, you’re not looking at everything new and trying to figure out what they’re doing in a short amount of time. We kind of know what they’re going to do.”
It’s still an abnormal week. Normally, the Chiefs hold meetings Monday and the players have Tuesday off. Preparations for the weekend game begin in earnest on Wednesday.
“Today is like the typical Thursday already,” special-teams player Andy Studebaker said. “Not an easy transition, but certainly not impossible. It’s a short week. Yesterday still stings, losing to a division opponent at home. We were right in the middle of it and it kind of got away from us. That’s still frustrating.
“But we’ve got to move on from it. We’ve got another division opponent on the road in a nationally televised game, and we’re looking forward to that challenge. Guys are positive today. Guys came to work. The sun came up this morning and we’re positive.”
The NFL this year has 14 Thursday night games plus two games during the day on Thanksgiving. Each of the 32 teams plays once on Thursday.
“Every week some NFL team has to get this done,” defensive end Tyson Jackson said. “It’s not like San Diego is coming off a bye or anything like that. They had a tough game this week, too.”
Chiefs coaches started preparing for this game during the bye two weeks ago. They built a game plan on each side of the ball then, so it was ready when the coaches arrived for work Monday morning.
“During the bye week, the coaches did a little work on San Diego because we just played them recently,” Crennel said. “It doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of difference in what they’re doing, and so some of the plan will be the same with one or two adjustments here or there.”
Thursday’s game features two struggling teams. The Chargers have lost three straight, including Sunday’s 7-6 loss at Cleveland. So Thursday’s game could tip toward the team that can put its recent disappointments in the past.
“When you lose, it’s tough on you mentally,” Crennel said. “You wonder about how you played, what you could have done differently, why things are happening the way they’re happening. You get down a little bit. If you have a whole week to recover, as the week goes on you’re able to put the game further behind you. But in a short week you don’t have as much time to put the game further behind you.
“So what we have to do is to try to get them to put the game behind us and have it over last night rather than today, but human nature won’t let you do that.”