KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Matt Cassel's return to Chiefs practice barely caused a ripple in their locker room once it concluded. Other than some bruised feelings caused by the blowout loss to San Diego in his absence, it was hard to tell he was ever missing.
In fact, to wide receiver Terrance Copper, if you hadn't known Cassel had an appendectomy last week, you wouldn't have figured it out at practice on Wednesday.
"Matt looked like the old Matt,'' Copper said. "He always looks the same to me.''
The Chiefs listed Cassel as being a limited participant in practice and called his availability for Sunday's game against the Rams in St. Louis as day to day. In doing so, they served notice they will take this issue to the end of the practice week on Friday if not all the way up to game time before it is resolved.
"It will truly be a day to day thing,'' coach Todd Haley said. "That's not at any kind of level secrecy. We just have to see how he responds each day.''
The Chiefs (8-5) are trying to retain their hold on first place in the AFC West. They are a game ahead of the Chargers, who could put more heat on the Chiefs by winning tonight at home against San Francisco.
With Cassel watching the game back home in Kansas City, nothing worked properly for the Chiefs last week in San Diego. Brodie Croyle played at quarterback and the Chiefs lost 31-0.
That Cassel is back so quickly at practice is a positive sign for the Chiefs but doesn't yet mean he will play against the Rams. Asked to put a percentage on the chance he would play in St. Louis, Cassel said, "Hopefully 99.99999 percent.''
Then, getting serious, he said, "I really don't know.''
The decision rests with the Chiefs and whether they believe Cassel can play effectively. That's something they watched carefully on Wednesday and will continue to monitor for the next two days.
"Right now, it's more how I feel and how the week progresses,'' Cassel said. "It's also how the coaches evaluate me throughout the week and whether I can make the throws and play to the best of my ability.''
"If I can go out there and I can do everything I want to do without any discomfort, without any pain, then I'm going to go out and play. Medically, there are a number of different issues that come up with a procedure like this in terms of just how I feel. The medical staff, the trainers, the coaches will discuss it. We'll proceed with caution.''
Nobody with the Chiefs would quantify how many snaps Cassel took. But Cassel said, "I was slightly limited in some drills. There will be activities that I'll proceed with caution throughout the course of the week.''
During the brief portion of practice open to the media, Cassel ran with his teammates, though he lagged behind the other quarterbacks. At the start of practice, he was first in line, a position usually reserved for the starter, when the quarterbacks started throwing to backs and receivers.
Cassel then worked in a running drill where he handed off to running backs while Croyle and Tyler Palko were throwing to receivers. But Cassel was later the quarterback in the huddle during a drill in which all three quarterbacks, each with a ball in his hand, throws to a receiver or back.
Cassel threw several passes in that drill, many with a strong zip. Three were deep passes and he showed good accuracy, albeit with no defense in place.
"It's one thing to throw balls and another to get hit but he's obviously a tough quarterback,'' wide receiver Chris Chambers said. "You can see that. He's obviously preparing himself to play.''
Cassel said, 'The mentality is always, 'Get back as soon as you can. Somebody once told me and I agree: You never want to see somebody else doing your job.''
Croyle was doing it last week and may wind up playing in St. Louis. He said confidence wouldn't be a problem after the lousy game in San Diego.
The Chiefs had just 76 yards and five first downs. Croyle completed just 7 of his 17 pass attempts and was sacked four times.
"I'm fine,'' Croyle said. "I wish it went a different way but it didn't. I've been around long enough to know it isn't always going to go your way.''