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.”