TEMPE, Ariz. – Every Wednesday after practice, the Cardinals starting quarterback addresses the media under the famed shade tree at the team’s Tempe practice complex. Perhaps it was this reality that led coach Ken Whisenhunt to tip his hand so early in the week.
Before a single reporter could ask a question, Whisenhunt announced that rookie Ryan Lindley would make his first NFL start this Sunday when the Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The announcement wasn’t surprising. Whisenhunt was so clearly frustrated with the play of John Skelton – particularly all the plays he’s been missing – that he had already turned that page when he yanked Skelton after just one quarter in Atlanta last week.
“Hopefully he will give us a spark and play well,” said Whisenhunt, who admitted that giving Lindley his first full week of preparation with the first team would help. “It won’t hurt.”
How long Lindley remains the starter is anyone’s guess. Erstwhile starter Kevin Kolb was on the practice field and listed as limited on the club’s official injury report Wednesday. Kolb has acknowledged that there are limits in twisting, but he’s feeling well enough to make more throws, and deeper throws. Now it will be about his injured ribs’ response to that increased workload and the evaluation of team doctors.
“Kevin’s improving,” Whisenhunt said. “I think he’s a lot closer now than he was a couple weeks ago. I think a big part of it is testing him in practice.”
As for Lindley, he was glad to learn his status so early in the week.
“It means a little more,” he said of practicing with the first team. “They’re taking what you say a little more seriously.”
Lindley admitted that jitters and inexperience are still factors in his play.
“The biggest thing is just slowing the game down,” he said. “I think when I went in in the first half (at Atlanta), I kind of thought it was going to be faster than it was, and I tried to speed it up a little bit.”
But a half-season’s worth of practice reps and observation have him feeling comfortable with the offense.
“I’ve still got steps to go before I master it and before I’m out on the level with Mike (Miller, offensive coordinator) and John (McNulty, quarterbacks coach). I feel more comfortable this week than I did in weeks previous, so it’s just about going out there and executing now.”
When asked why he had made the switch, Whisenhunt focused on Lindley’s play instead of addressing what Skelton had not done.
“He did a nice job handling the offense in a hostile situation with noise and being able to make the calls,” Whisenhunt said. “There didn’t seem to be any struggles on his part.” INJURY REPORT
In addition to Kolb, DE Calais Campbell (calf) LG Daryn Colledge (foot), WR Early Doucet (ribs), CB William Gay (groin), FS Kerry Rhodes (back), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (ribs), RB William Powell (shoulder), RB Alfonso Smith (illness) and S Justin Bethel (shoulder) were limited at Wednesday’s practice.
CB Jamell Fleming (back), TE Todd Heap (knee), TE Jeff King (knee), CB Greg Toler (hamstring), RB Beanie Wells (knee) and LS Mike Leach (back) practiced in full.