Chiefs’ Chase Daniel unfazed by pressure of Week 17’s game

Dec 29, 2013; San Diego; Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel (10) rolls out of the pocket against the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2013; San Diego; Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel (10) rolls out of the pocket against the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel has one previous career start, also against the San Diego Chargers.

But Daniel’s start in the final regular season game of 2013 arrived because the Chiefs rested starters after being locked in as the fifth playoff seed.

The second time around against the Chargers offers different circumstances based on starting quarterback Alex Smith’s lacerated spleen, which was diagnosed on Christmas Day.

Kansas City’s current playoff hopes now rest on Daniel, a sixth-year pro, but the Chiefs aren’t pushing panic buttons.

“You’re fortunate you have Chase and the guys have a lot of trust in Chase,” coach Andy Reid told reporters Friday. “He’ll have an opportunity to get out there and play. Our heart goes out to Alex. This isn’t something that he wanted to happen for sure. He wanted to be there, but again, Chase, the guys know Chase and they’re confident in him.”

Center Rodney Hudson reinforced Reid’s statement.

“We’re confident that he’ll do a good job,” Hudson told reporters in the locker room. “Everybody just has to work together, work as an offense and offensive line. Just work together and we’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, Daniel had the benefit of a one full practice with the first-team offense, which occurred Friday.

The lack of first-team repetitions from earlier in the week, however, didn’t appear to bother Daniel.

“I’ve worked my entire career being the No. 2 and preparing day in and day out like I’m going to be the starter,” Daniel told reporters. “You’re one play away and unfortunately you don’t want these circumstances. Thank goodness Alex is OK, but this is a chance. This is a chance that you have to be ready for. I know the team believes in me and we will go out there and try to put drives together against a good San Diego defense.”

Daniel indicated his previous start against the Chargers is beneficial because he knows how to approach the game and he is familiar with the opponent.

“It’s pretty much the same team, some personnel changes,” Daniel said. “To have a start under your belt and knowing the way to prepare, going back through that game, I actually watched it a couple weeks ago and just fine tuning some stuff. It’s been fun; it’ll be fun this week.”

Meanwhile, the Chiefs aren’t likely to scale down the playbook because of the change at quarterback and with a postseason berth on the line.

Daniel proved in 2013 against San Diego’s starting defense he could run the offense, completing 21-of-30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown in a 27-24 overtime loss. He added 59 yards rushing on seven carries and Daniel’s 2-yard touchdown pass to then-Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster is the last touchdown pass caught by a Chiefs wide receiver.

As for the playoffs, the Chiefs must defeat the Chargers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, and then need the Baltimore Ravens to lose to the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans to lose or tie against the Jacksonville Jaguars. San Diego can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Chiefs.

Sunday’s pressure situation doesn’t faze Daniel.

“Quite honestly, I wouldn’t rather have it any other way to be put in a situation than to go out there with everything on the line,” Daniel said. “You have to win to get in and obviously we need some help, but what we are focused on is winning the game.”