NFL

Cards coach still not ready to name starting quarterback

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Associated Press
8/24/2012 7:09:33 PM
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt says he's not quite ready to name a starting quarterback but indicates a decision could come soon.

It has to, because the Cardinals open their regular season in a little more than two weeks at home against Seattle.

Speaking at his usual day-after news conference on Friday, Whisenhunt said he would think about it over the weekend.

"I'm sure I'll get asked that question again," he said. "The next time I think maybe I'll have a little more information."

John Skelton and Kevin Kolb have been competing for the job, and neither has been outstanding. Skelton started Thursday night's 32-27 loss at Tennessee and completed 4 of 10 passes for 41 yards and was intercepted once. Kolb saw more extensive action and was 17 of 22 for 156 yards, including his first TD pass of the preseason. But he was intercepted twice, with one of them returned for a touchdown.

Whisenhunt said he was not ready to say whether the competition would continue into next Thursday night's preseason finale at home against Denver but that the decision might await the outcome of a few more practices. The Cardinals have the weekend off, then resume workouts on Monday.

"We've still got some practice days left," Whisenhunt said. "Since we're not game planning, we've still got an opportunity to do some competitive practices with our defence so you get a chance to assess their play."

The coach said that with the team's late arrival back from Nashville, then meetings with players on Friday and making decisions on roster cuts, he hadn't had time to put the appropriate amount of thought into his quarterback decision.

He said part of the evaluation is how the two candidates respond to corrections that need to be made from their mistakes Thursday night and in previous games.

Whisenhunt noted that Kolb had a tough week after Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Smith criticized the quarterback for being "scared" and "skittish." Kolb responded by saying he's never been scared on the field in his life and that Smith was "clueless" about the difference between staying in the pocket under a severe rush or trying to get out and make a play.

"I thought that he responded like a pro does," Whisenhunt said of Kolb's performance, particularly with how he responded following the interceptions. "He made some plays, did a nice job. That was a good two-minute drive."

Kolb directed Arizona on a seven-play, 86-yard scoring drive in the final 1:45 of the first half. After his first pass of the second half was intercepted by Tennessee linebacker Colin McCarthy and returned for a touchdown, Kolb was 8 for 9 before leaving the game for the night.

Whisenhunt said that, no matter who it is, "the one thing we've got to get corrected is we can't turn the football over." The Cardinals had five turnovers against the Titans.

"The reason we didn't win the game last night was because we turned the ball over," the coach said, "and that's not going to cut it going forward."

It is hard to evaluate the quarterback play when the offensive line is struggling so much.

Arizona, as expected, put starting left tackle Levi Brown on season-ending injured reserve on Friday. D.J. Young started in Brown's spot at Tennessee and had a difficult night. While Whisenhunt pledged to continue working with Young -- who spent his rookie season a year ago on the practice squad -- he said that the line's play seemed to get better when D'Anthony Batiste was shifted to left tackle and rookie Bobby Massie moved in at right tackle.

Whisenhunt has said that the team will be looking for help at the tackle position as other squads make roster cuts.

The Cardinals reached the 75-man roster limit three days ahead of the NFL's deadline for doing so. Among the dozen players released was cornerback Marshay Green.

Ken Whisenhunt (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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