Much like Tom Brady only got his chance because of an injury to Drew Bledsoe, Matt Cassel is only where he is today because Brady went down with a knee injury in 2008. With Peyton Manning on the sidelines with a neck injury, young Curtis Painter is getting a shot with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Manning-Painter situation has brought back memories for Cassel of that September day when Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard hit Brady low to knock him out.
“The first thought going through your head is, ‘Well, geez, I’d better find my helmet pretty quick here,’ ” Cassel said.
In Painter’s first career start last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he was 13-30 for 281 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort. Cassel knows exactly what is facing Painter.
“It’s tough at first because what you’re really trying to do is establish yourself with your teammates and get them to believe in you. From there, once you start playing and getting out there and showing those guys you can play, the trust level goes up and everybody starts to believe in you and you go from there.”
If he is half as successful as Cassel was in 2008, Painter is going to be just fine. After all, Cassel won 10 games as a starter (they also beat the Chiefs in that opening game that Cassel didn’t start) and at this point the Colts would be happy if they could find one victory.
Cassel isn’t the only one that knows how difficult the path ahead will be for Painter. The Chiefs defense is also aware of that and will be coming after him all day, daring him to carry the Colts.