TEMPE, Ariz. – By his own admission, Cardinals quarterback John Skelton “isn’t all the way there” as he recovers from what the team said is a low-ankle sprain suffered in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks.
“Not with all this tape on it,” Skelton said in the locker room, Wednesday, as he peeled away layers of said tape. “It’s getting there. I’m able to run now and do some stuff that I haven’t been able to do in weeks past, but it’s still there. It’s still sore. It still lingers.”
Skelton practiced in full for a second consecutive day on Wednesday, at least according to the team’s official injury report. But his status for Thursday’s game is still listed as questionable. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn’t commit to a backup quarterback for that game when asked about it after Wednesday’s practice.
“That’s a decision that we’ll make before the game,” Whisenhunt said.
Nor has Whisenhunt committed to a starting QB once Skelton, his Week-1 starter, is fully healthy.
“At some point, when we feel like, based on what he’s done in practice, he’s ready to go, we’ll have a decision to make,” said Whisenhunt, who has always been a proponent of competition. “I think it made both of those guys (Skelton and Kevin Kolb) better. We’re reaping the dividends of that right now. Whatever you want to say about picking the quarterback and when we picked the quarterback and how it all came down, the bottom line is we’re 4-0.”
And that is the reason virtually everyone around this club expects Kolb to maintain his hold on the position as long as the Cardinals are having success. You don’t mess with momentum. What nobody knows is how short a leash Kolb has. Whisenhunt certainly isn’t saying.
“When the day comes when I’m fully healthy and ready to go, Coach Whisenhunt is going to have to make a decision,” Skelton said. “I’m sure he’s going to go with the guy that gives us the best chance to win.
“But right now, my focus is getting healthy and getting back on the field as soon as possible. As long as we’re winning, as long as everything is good, you have to look at it from a team standpoint more than anything.”
Skelton also knows that the NFL often has a way of taking care of these dilemmas on its own.
“Yeah,” he said. “For good or for bad.”
Whisenhunt reiterated on Wednesday that defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (hamstring), running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hip) and tight end Todd Heap (PCL sprain) would all be game-time decisions Thursday.
Every eligible Cardinals player participated in practice in some capacity on Wednesday, with Dockett, Heap, Stephens-Howling, Skelton, defensive tackle Dan Williams (foot), inside linebacker Paris Lenon (knee), tight end Jim Dray (knee), cornerback Michael Adams (hamstring) and outside linebacker Quentin Groves (hamstring) all limited. All are listed as questionable for the Rams.
Whisenhunt admitted the short week was a challenge from several standpoints. Players were still sore from Sunday’s win over Miami, and the team’s normal schedule was all out of whack.
“It’s so weird. You don’t know what day it is,” he said Wednesday. “It feels like a Friday (the last day of a normal practice week), but really it’s a Saturday (the normal) day before games and tomorrow’s a Sunday, but what day is it really? Wednesday. It can mess with you, but our guys worked.
“You just worry about the time because today we would just be going on the field for our first Wednesday practice. Those two days of really heavy prep? You lose that, so you just have to rely on your preparation in the short week and hopefully we play fast and not make a lot of mistakes.”
Whisenhunt said there are elements of the game plan that must be eliminated on a short week.
“You have to be smart and scale it back,” he said of the playbook. “In the areas you don’t use as much, you might have fewer plays. Still, you want to try to keep it as normal as possible.”
Cards defensive coordinator Ray Horton interviewed for the Rams vacant head coaching position this offseason. St. Louis eventually chose former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, but Horton called it a learning experience.
“It was a privilege,” Horton said. “They were very gracious, open and honest with the assessment of me and their team.”
If the Cardinals defense continues its current upward arc, the St. Louis experience should serve Horton well. There is already plenty of chatter about him being interviewed for any positions that open up this season.