KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Romeo Crennel Wasted Little time making the Chiefs his team by benching quarterback Tyler Palko for Sunday's game against Green Bay at Arrowhead Stadium.
Crennel said veteran Kyle Orton would start against the Packers if his injured finger is healed in time. If not, rookie Ricky Stanzi, who hasn't played this season, would go.
"If Orton is able to go, then Orton is the quarterback,'' Crennel said at his daily news conference. "We'll have to see how his finger is and how he comes along and whether we can count on him with that finger.''
Without being asked, Crennel said the decision to bench Palko was his and not that of general manager Scott Pioli. He said he informed Palko Wednesday morning he was no longer the starter and then informed Pioli.
"I told Tyler it was my decision and it was my decision,'' Crennel said. "I made it.''
Orton, a former starter with the Bears and Broncos, joined the Chiefs last month after they lost Matt Cassel for the season. He has taken just one snap for the Chiefs, in the win over Chicago two weeks ago.
Orton dislocated the index finger on his passing hand on the play. He wasn't in uniform for last week's loss to the Jets.
Orton was able to get plenty of zip on his passes on a windy day Wednesday during the small portion of practice the media was allowed to watch.
A bigger issue for Orton is in taking the snap from center. The Chiefs may have to operate exclusively from the shotgun formation Sunday to accommodate Orton.
"He's been throwing a little bit with the trainers,'' Crennel said. "They said for short passes he's been doing pretty good. Now we'll have to see how he does for practice. We might have to protect him a little bit from taking the snap. We have a plan in place to do that so that we can still operate the offense without him having to take a snap.''
Orton said he is able to make the necessary throws.
"I won't put myself out there unless I can,'' Orton said. "Nothing in this league is perfect. Everybody's got to play with injuries and I'm no different than anybody else.''
Stanzi indicated he took about 40 percent of the snaps with the starting offense in practice with Orton getting the rest.
"I've been in this position before, being the backup,'' who has been the number three quarterback most of the season. "It's not too different. The actual getting (snaps) with the first team is a little bit of a change.''
While signs pointed toward Orton being prepared to play against the Packers, Crennel wasn't ready to commit to that.
"I told the offensive coaches to get both of them ready,'' Crennel said. "It's going to depend on what Kyle can and cannot do.''
Crennel said announcing the plan at quarterback this early in the week would eliminate a lot of distractions as the Chiefs prepare to play the NFL's last remaining undefeated team, the 13-0 Packers. Eliminating that distraction, he said, was more important than trying to keep the Packers guessing.
"I've been through a quarterback controversy in another job I had and there's innuendos and guessing and (players) are trying to figure things out,'' Crennel said. "I just think it's better for them to know there's a different quarterback.
"Now they can focus on the game plan. They can focus on the plays. They can focus on what we need to do to try to beat Green Bay. They're not focusing on what the coach is going to do, who the quarterback is going to be, is the offense going to be different for this guy or is the offense going to be different for that guy? The offense is going to be the offense and then we're going to play football.
"I thought about Green Bay not knowing but then I said, 'Hey, they don't care who our quarterback is.' When they look at the quarterbacks on our roster, they don't care who plays. They look at Tyler and what he's done the past couple of weeks and they look at Orton and know he's got a finger (injury) and they look at a rookie. I don't think that they're shaking in their boots.''
Palko started the last four games under Todd Haley, who was fired as coach on Monday. The Chiefs went 1-3 by scoring just 32 points and two touchdowns.
Palko was short with his answers in a brief interview but said he didn't feel he was being unfairly blamed for the offensive problems.
"That's coach Crennel's decision,'' Palko said. "Coach is going to make the decision he feels is best for the team.''
Crennel cited the trouble scoring points as the reason for the change.
"The thing he hasn't done is he hasn't been able to put points on the board,'' Crennel said. "One of these two guys, hopefully they'll give us a chance to put more points on the board.''
He indicated Orton's experience was the bigger reason he would be in front of the line instead of Stanzi. Orton has 66 career starts in seven seasons with the Bears and Broncos.
He started against the Packers early this season while playing for the Broncos. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in Denver's 49-23 loss.
Orton had one of the best games of his career last year against Crennel and the Chiefs. He was 22 of 34 for 296 yards and four touchdowns in Denver's 49-29 win.
But Crennel said he would have no problem playing Stanzi if it comes to that.
"It will be tough duty for him going against the Packers,'' Crennel said. "He's shown good improvement throughout the year. I get to see him every day on the show team. He operates the show team and works against our defense and he's improved during the course of this year. If he's the guy in there, he'll do a representative job.''