KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Whether he's bolting out of the pocket at the first sign of trouble or pushing a backhanded pass while on the run, Tyler Palko's style can often be described as unconventional.
He has also been the Chiefs' best quarterback through the first half of their preseason. Palko guided the Chiefs on the only touchdown drive of the two games in Friday night's 31-13 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore.
The 80-yard drive near the end of the first half ended when Palko, in an uncharacteristic move for him, stood his ground with a defender in his face and fired a 4-yard scoring pass to Terrance Copper.
Palko completed eight of 13 passes for 95 yards and the touchdown against the Ravens. He by far outplayed the Chiefs' other backup quarterback, rookie Ricky Stanzi, as well as the starter, Matt Cassel.
While Palko may not have nailed down the No. 2 quarterback spot, he probably improved his candidacy.
"I feel like there were a lot of positives that had to come out of Tyler getting a bunch of snaps," coach Todd Haley said. "It was not all perfect. I thought he was able to make progress."
Palko's night started on a rough note when he was hit hard and flattened by a defender while attempting his first pass of the game. The play was originally ruled a fumble that Baltimore recovered before a video review showed his arm to be moving forward, resulting in an incomplete pass.
The play didn't rattle Palko. The Chiefs didn't score on that drive but they did on the next one. Palko got that possession started by completing a 28-yard pass to Verran Tucker on the first play.
Palko completed three of four passes for 50 yards on the drive, but the touchdown was his most impressive play. With an unblocked defender coming his way, Palko didn't flinch and calmly flipped the pass to Copper.
"They were bringing one more than we have and that guy is mine," Palko said. "That's my job to give ground and let the receiver do his job, which he did."
Copper said, "He put the ball right on the money. We have a great working relationship because we work a lot together in practice."
Palko is getting the best chance of his four-year NFL odyssey. Before joining the Chiefs in March 2010, Palko bounced from New Orleans to Arizona to Pittsburgh without ever getting a significant trial.
It was as if no team took him seriously, perhaps because of his style of play.
"It's not my intention to scramble," Palko said. "Whenever somebody is in your face and you feel pressure, you've just got to try to move around."
The Chiefs can make a move to sign a veteran quarterback at any time, but the fact they have yet to do so seems to indicate they are warming to Palko and the idea of him as their leading reserve.
"Every guy has to utilize his strengths," Haley said. "One of the things I've continued and (quarterbacks coach Jim) Zorn has continued to talk to Tyler about is to use his athletic ability. Each guy has to play a little different. We have to be on the same pages as coaches when certain guys are in there and what their strengths are and weaknesses.
"I wouldn't say there's anything unconventional about Tyler other than he's an athletic quarterback that did a good job (in Baltimore)."
Palko is distancing himself from Stanzi on their hierarchy of Chiefs quarterbacks but isn't yet resting easily.
"At the end of training camp and when we make final cuts, we'll look at it then," Palko said. "We took some steps in the right direction offensively and that's always encouraging."