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Pioli won't acknowledge Peyton interest

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)

Scott Pioli refused to say Friday whether the Chiefs have interest in Peyton Manning, though the general manager said discussions have taken place with free agent quarterback Kyle Orton to provide competition for Matt Cassel.

Orton was acquired by the Chiefs off waivers from the Denver Broncos after Cassel hurt his throwing hand last season. Cassel wound up on injured reserve, and Orton played well the final three weeks of the season, knocking off the Packers along with his former team.

''We've talked with Kyle's people. We've talked with Kyle,'' Pioli said Friday at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, where he was busy evaluating draft prospects.

''It sounds like Kyle would like to be with us. We told Kyle that we'd like to continue to work with him,'' Pioli said. ''Now it's just a matter of seeing if things arrive at the right place. It's not always about whether we want a player or the players want to be here.''

The Chiefs went to training camp last season with only journeyman Tyler Palko and fifth-round draft pick Ricky Stanzi backing up Cassel, who wound up struggling even before he got hurt.

Pioli was criticized for not having enough depth at quarterback last season, and he's vowed that there will be competition for the starting job in training camp. But he also said that Cassel is expected to be the starter, assuming he's fully recovered.

''I wouldn't say its open, I'd say Matt's our starting quarterback,'' he said. ''I know there's a lot of focus on the quarterback competition, but I want to be clear on this: What we've said is we're going to have competition at every position, including the quarterback position.''

Pioli also said that All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles, Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki are doing well rehabbing from knee injuries.

Moeaki tore his left ACL in the Chiefs' final preseason game. Berry went down with the same injury in Week 1, and Charles tore his own left ACL in Week 2.

''It's a tough injury for a skilled player,'' Pioli said of Charles, who ran for 1,467 yards and five TDs in 2010. ''We got to see him last week and he feels pretty confident - and everyone feels pretty confident - that he should be fine. He's worked hard, I know that.

''A couple of guys had the same injury, unfortunately, and we've been able to keep tabs on those guys and everyone feels like - not only the players, but the doctors - feel like they're going to be back.''

The Chiefs have numerous holes to fill in the April draft.

Among the positions of greatest need are along the offensive and defensive lines, though it's also possible that Kansas City will simply go with the best player available. The Chiefs pick 11th after winning a coin toss with the Seattle Seahawks on Friday.

''I think, overall, the entire draft has a really solid class,'' Pioli said. ''I don't think there's a position that's not solid this year. I just know there's some good players.''

Tagged: Chiefs, Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, Jamaal Charles

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