Pioli won’t acknowledge Peyton interest

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.”