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INDIANAPOLIS — Talk about saving the best for last.
Among the head coaches and GMs who spoke on the first three days of this year's Combine interviews, nobody came off any better than Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel, the final NFL figure to step to the podium on Saturday.
What clearly set Crennel apart from just about all the guys who spoke before him, beginning on Thursday morning, was the fact that he seemed to be actually enjoying himself.
"I am really excited about this coming year," said Crennel, whose strong effort in an interim capacity after Todd Haley's firing in mid-December led to a well-deserved, more permanent promotion. "We do have some free-agent situations that we have to work out, and we have to get some key guys back from injury we did not have last year. But our players have a good attitude and are looking forward to a full offseason, which they did not have last year."
Three particular players whose contributions were sorely missed due to injuries in 2011 were SS Eric Berry, RB Jamaal Charles and TE Tony Moeaki.
"I've seen all three of the guys since the season ended, and they all look good," Crennel said. "The doctors tell me they are all making good progress in their recoveries, but with every injury situation, you really don't know until you can get the players back out on the field and see how they plant and cut and do those kind of things. Even though they tell us they're doing good and hope to be back to full speed, we really won't know until we start practicing."
Equally unclear is the Chiefs' situation at the all-important QB position. Matt Cassel, another notable player whose season was cut short by injury, would appear to have the upper hand over impending free agent Kyle Orton and 2011 rookie Ricky Stanzi. But Orton's solid late-season relief effort, which included a Week 15 upset victory over the previously unbeaten Packers, offers lots of food for thought.
"We have Matt under contract, along with Stanzi, and we have to let Kyle's free-agent situation play itself out," Crennel said. "If not for Kyle, I wouldn't be standing here, either, so I'm very appreciative of what he did. Until we get another QB signed, Cassel is the guy. But if Kyle comes back, we'll see how it works out and play the best guy. Until then, it's all speculation."
Despite having Cassel, Orton and Stanzi all in the mix, Crennel still felt compelled Friday evening to interview Baylor's Robert Griffin III, who is widely considered the second-best signalcaller available in the draft behind Stanford's Andrew Luck.
"It went very well last night," said Crennel. "You only have 15 minutes to talk to the guys, and it goes pretty quickly when you're talking with an entertaining kid like him. He's very sharp, very well-thought-out. He gives great answers. We could have easily talked to him for an hour. In the 15 minutes we had, we came away very impressed."
Crennel also talked about the Chiefs' new offensive coordinator, Brian Daboll, who previously worked in New England with Crennel before becoming the offensive coordinator in Miami.
"I know how hard he works," Crennel said of Daboll. "I know how thoughtful he is, and what he was able to do with Miami, particularly toward the end of the year. I've watched his career bloom from the time he was just a young whippersnapper in New England and think he is on a good track."
The charismatic Crennel covered considerable ground in his short-but-sweet talk:
- Regarding recent free-agent addition Stanford Routt, the former Raiders cornerback who was paid big money to come to K.C., Crennel said his addition did not automatically signal the end of UFA CB Brandon Carr's career as a Chief. "Carr's a good player who has done a good job for us," he said.
- Even though he made a point of saying that "we aren't supposed to talk about other teams' players," he said he would be "crazy" not to consider QB Peyton Manning if the four-time league MVP becomes available.
- On the topic of Dwayne Bowe, who is widely considered one of the top free-agent wideouts available, Crennel said he expected the team to "put its best foot forward" in order to bring back its leading receiver.