Kyle Orton: Five things to watch

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
3:25
PM ET
As expected, Kansas City interim coach Romeo Crennel told reporters Kyle Orton will start Sunday against Green Bay.

Let’s look at some keys for Orton, who was claimed off waivers from Denver last month, as he makes his first start as a Chief.

Rust/injury: This will be Orton’s first start since Week 5. He has thrown one pass since and he hurt his index finger on his throwing hand when he made his debut as a Chief at Chicago two weeks ago. Orton wouldn’t be playing Sunday if he were still injured, but it will be interesting to see if he takes a while to get going after being inactive.

Packers will defend aggressively: Orton faced the Packers in Week 4. He threw three touchdown passes in a blowout Denver loss. But he was also intercepted three times. Expect Green Bay to attack him again.

Chemistry with Dwayne Bowe: Orton has connected well with top receivers such as Brandon Marshall and Brandon Lloyd. Let’s see how he connects with Bowe. Bowe can be a game-changing receiver and I expect the veteran Orton to rely on him, even though their partnership may be temporary.

Play-action ability: Like injured Kansas City starter Matt Cassel, Orton has been among the league’s better passers in play-action situations. Because both Cassel and Orton were comfortable with play-action passing, the offense should suit Orton nicely.

How long will his leash be? If Orton doesn’t play well in the next couple of weeks, I could see fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi getting a chance to play before the season is over. But if Orton is serviceable, he will get the nod because he gives the Chiefs the best chance to win.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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