TEMPE, Ariz. — Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked Wednesday if he would ideally like the quarterback competition to resolve itself early in training camp.
His response: “If it was up to me, I’d prefer we had a quarterback resolution two years ago,” Whisenhunt said, eliciting laughter. “Obviously that hasn’t happened, so when it happens it happens.”
Whisenhunt’s answer was offered playfully, but the sentiment was real. The Cardinals would love to have an established starting quarterback in place. That’s not the reality, though, so they’re dealing with what they’ve got.
Logic says Kevin Kolb is the frontrunner over John Skelton with training camp more than a month away, but the two have split time with the first team during spring/summer workouts, and Whisenhunt says the competition won’t be rushed for the sake of putting a starter in place.
“You’ve got to let this competition play out honestly,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s got to be a fair competition. I think that our players understand that, and I’m excited to see how it goes.”
So could the competition play out similar to the 2008 offseason, when Kurt Warner’s strong training camp and Matt Leinart’s preseason struggles led to a last-minute change?
“If you can guarantee me that we’ll go to the Super Bowl, I’ll say ‘OK, we’ll go to the last minute,'” Whisenhunt joked. “It’s all speculation right now. I don’t know when it’s going to happen.”
Whisenhunt said offseason workouts without pads aren’t intended for intense evaluation — that will come during the preseason camp. Wednesday morning’s practice was a simple walkthrough without helmets, but Skelton ran the first team. Kolb ran it Tuesday morning.
Williams unsure of camp status
Second-year running back Ryan Williams, the Cardinals’ second-round draft pick last year, continues to practice in a limited capacity while rehabbing a knee injury that kept him out all last season. Whether he’ll be ready to go full speed come the start of training camp on July 24 remains a mystery.
“With this kind of injury, you never know,” Williams said. “It’s hard to really put a time frame on it.
“The most important thing is to make sure I’m ready to go,” Williams said. “There’s still some kinks to work out.”
Between last year’s lockout-shortened offseason and Williams’ injury, the Cardinals haven’t seen much of Williams since drafting him 38th overall in 2011. What they have seen leads them to believe he can be a strong complement to Beanie Wells, who is more of a power running back.
“What we’ve seen of Ryan, he can do a lot of different things,” Whisenhunt said.
Wells is also rehabbing a knee injury and has yet to participate during three weeks of organized activities. Whisenhunt said the team plans to carry extra running backs in training camp.
Without pads and contact, OTAs and minicamp are typically more about learning plays, schemes and information. With that in mind, Whisenhunt has been careful to wait in evaluating draft picks too much at this point.
While many draft picks come with high expectations, Whisenhunt said they must show they deserve significant playing time.
“I think we’ve always been consistent about making sure they prove it first,” Whisenhunt said. “We’re not going to give anything to anybody, and that seems to work out the best. When we get significant contributions like we did last year from Patrick (Peterson), that’s a bonus.”
Whisenhunt spoke specifically Wednesday of third-round pick Jamell Fleming, a cornerback out of Oklahoma who will compete for time opposite Peterson, and Michael Floyd, the wide receiver taken in the first round. Whisenhunt said Fleming seems to make a play on a ball daily, be it a knock down or an interception, but training camp and the preseason will be a more appropriate setting to determine his readiness.
“Once we get into the preseason games when it’s a little bit different, that’ll be a real test,” Whisenhint said. “I think you can tell from his demeanor he’s comfortable. He knows athletically he can compete at this level. He’s done a good job, he hasn’t made many mistakes.”
When the Cardinals took Floyd 13th overall out of Notre Dame, it was anticipated he would be a playmaker to set up opposite Larry Fitzgerald, but Whisenhunt insists it’s too early to say what he’ll bring.
“Our expectation for Michael is for him to come in here and compete,” Whisenhunt said. “If he shows that he can do some things, then you want to put him in some packages where you can emphasize those things or give him opportunities.”
The Cardinals’ second practice on Wednesday was at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale and was open to the public in conjuction with Fan Fest.