TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals have given up hope that Kevin Kolb will return this season, placing the only quarterback who had success with the team this season on injured reserve and naming rookie Ryan Lindley as starter for Sunday's game against Detroit.
Kolb led the team to a 4-0 start to the season, but went down with a rib injury in Week 6 and has not played since. The team placed him on injured reserve Wednesday, two days after claiming quarterback Brian Hoyer on waivers from Pittsburgh.
"I just think in talking with the doctors and where he is physically, just being able to take a hit was the biggest concern," coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "and what kind of effect that would have on him."
Lindley will be back running an offence that ranks last in the NFL on a team that has lost nine straight and is coming off the most one-sided loss in franchise history, 58-0 at Seattle.
Not exactly a quarterback's dream job.
"We're going to go with Ryan this week," Whisenhunt said after Wednesday's practice. "That's where we ended the game last week. He's gotten experience and you'd like to think that we can progress from those experiences, and hopefully he'll play well in this game."
Lindley said he wants to show he's better than his disappointing performance two weeks ago in a 7-6 loss to the New York Jets, when he completed 10 of 31 passes for 72 yards. The Cardinals had five first downs in that game, tying a franchise worst, and were 0 for 15 on third-down conversions.
"I just kind of knew after that game there was a lot of improvement I needed to do," the sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State said. "I needed to show I can play better than that. Getting another opportunity, that's exactly what it is, an opportunity to go out and play."
Lindley had started two games but was benched in favour of John Skelton for last week's game in Seattle. Skelton got the hook after throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble against the Seahawks.
There's no doubt that Whisenhunt would much prefer to turn to Kolb, but the freak rib injury ruined that idea.
Kolb said he looks forward to coming back next year , although the Cardinals may balk at paying him the $11 million -- $9 million in salary and a $2 million roster bonus -- that he is due.
"If that time comes, we'll have the discussion," he said, "but hopefully it won't and hopefully they see what they have and we can move forward and get to a good off-season."
Kolb was injured in a broken play when he fell hard on his chest on a tackle. Pieces of cartilage were torn from the top of his rib cage and became lodged behind the sternum, slowing the healing process.
"Really what happened is I kind of hit a wall with my rehab," Kolb said.
It's just another setback in Kolb's rocky two seasons in the desert.
The Cardinals thought Kolb would be their franchise quarterback when they acquired him just before the start of the 2011 season from Philadelphia in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick. But Arizona started 1-6 and Kolb struggled with Whisenhunt's offence as well as with injuries, first a turf toe, then a concussion that prematurely ended his season.
Kolb lost the starting job to Skelton this preseason. But when Skelton was hurt late in the opener against Seattle, Kolb came on to direct the game-winning touchdown drive.
He completed just under 60 per cent of his passes, throwing for eight touchdowns with three interceptions. By contrast, Skelton and Lindley have combined for two touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Despite a fierce pass rush that resulted in him being sacked 17 times in consecutive games against Miami and St. Louis, Kolb said he felt that he was jelling with the offence.
"We really had a good thing going and we got decimated by injuries," Kolb said. "We really did."
Whisenhunt, if he returns next season, said he would be comfortable building off what Kolb has shown.
"You like to be able to build off of something and that at least is a positive," Whisenhunt said.
Kolb said he'd like to know his status with the organization early in the off-season.
"I would like for it to be settled for my sake and my family's sake," he said. "It's been a hot topic for about three offseasons in a row. Hopefully, we'll have some conversations and, like I said, I made a commitment to this team. I want to be around for a long time. I'd like to do very big things here and I have confidence in what we have here."
He said he knows there will be changes in the off-season, but he doesn't want to be among them.
"Obviously, we're going to have to make adjustments. We all know that. It's not good for anybody to be in this position," Kolb said. "But my focus is being part of this team for a long time, and being the best player that I can be and getting this place back to an elite level. I'm going to work my tail off to make sure we get there."