TEMPE, Ariz. – Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has not settled on a quarterback for this Sunday’s home game against the Rams. It would be surprising if he went back to John Skelton after pulling him at the start of the second quarter in favor of rookie Ryan Lindley on Sunday in Atlanta. It might even be construed as an admission of error if Skelton were to start again this Sunday.
Then again, maybe nothing should seem surprising when it comes to the Cardinals quarterback position. Other than a brief ray of hope early this season from Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals have been on a three-year quest for solid play at the position.
“That’s this business,” Whisenhunt said. “Quarterbacks are hard to find. There’s a lot of teams that have been struggling with this. You deal with it the best way you can.”
Further muddling the picture this week is the health of Kolb, who has been out since suffering a rib injury in Week 6 against Buffalo. Whisenhunt hopes that Kolb will start working his way back into practice this week, but it still seems doubtful he’d be ready to play Sunday.
Whisenhunt said he will sit down with the coaching staff and evaluate whether Lindley or Skelton gets the nod this week based on a long-running Whisenhunt mantra: which player gives the team the best chance to win.
Skelton clearly wasn’t happy with the move, but after a 2-for-7 performance that included missing a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone, he didn’t have much room for complaint.
“I’m all right,” he said. “It’s a part of the game. Getting benched is a part of the game. It’s frustrating not to be able to be out there and fight for the rest of the game, but you can’t do anything about it.”
When asked what he saw from Lindley that convinced him Lindley was ready for his first NFL snaps Sunday, Whisenhunt said this:
“Ryan’s been consistent from Day 1. One of the things that’s really stood out is what he’s done in practice. Because of the situation at quarterback with (injuries to) Kevin and John and him being the No. 2 essentially for most of the season, he’s gotten reps during the week, and he’s done a nice job with those.”
Whisenhunt said he saw some good things from Lindley against the Falcons, although he acknowledged that it would be difficult to tell from the statistics and the fact that the Cardinals scored just six points in three quarters with Lindley at the helm.
As for Lindley, he sounded every bit the wide-eyed rookie after the game.
“I was excited,” he said. “I think the first half I was really pumped up and ready to go. I think originally, in the first half, I was a little too excited, but in the second half I feel like I went out there and made better decisions. I still missed on a few.”
Whisenhunt said the team will activate running back Beanie Wells this week and expects him to play Sunday against the Rams. Given the signs of life from the Cards’ running game the past few weeks, that should be a boon.
“I sure don’t anticipate it hurting,” Whisenhunt said. “He’s a 1,000-yard running back in the NFL. He’s a big guy. He looks good physically in practice, so you like to think it could help us.”
WILSON MUM ON BENCHING
Defensive captain and Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson did not start Sunday’s game, with Rashad Johnson starting in his place. No official reason was provided, but Wilson missed a key tackle in Green Bay in the game before the bye and recently has missed others, leading to speculation that defensive coordinator Ray Horton either wants to spell him to keep him rested or remove him in certain situations in which he feels Johnson or James Sanders can help the team more.
Wilson was removed from the Cards’ nickel packages on Sunday, but he still played 41 of 73 defensive snaps (56 percent).
When asked how he felt about the move and if he thought it was warranted, Wilson deferred.
“That’s a head coach question,” he said. “That’s a question for the head coach.”
When asked about the decision, Whisenhunt said:
“It’s never easy, but Adrian is a real pro, and he handled it well. But that’s where we are as a team. James (Sanders) and Rashad (Johnson) deserved a chance. We are trying to get better.”
Those calling for offensive coordinator Mike Miller or other staff members to be jettisoned won’t likely get their wish — at least before the season ends. That’s not the Cardinals way, and given the myriad injuries on offense this season, it may not even be fair.
When asked if there could be simpler steps taken on his staff, such as altering play-calling or duties, Whisenhunt said: “There could be. That’s something you look at. When you have a day like we did yesterday, you have to.”
Defensive end Calais Campbell said he’s confident he’ll return this week from a calf strain he suffered during the bye week. Campbell missed Sunday’s game, just the second game he’s missed in five seasons.
Whisenhunt said there was no update on cornerback Patrick Peterson, who left the game briefly with what was announced as a hamstring problem. Whisenhunt said Peterson told him it was cramps.