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Arizona coach inches closer to ruling out Skelton

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)

Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is inching closer to acknowledging that Kevin Kolb will be the starting quarterback Sunday at New England.

''We still have time,'' Whisenhunt said. ''It doesn't look great for John (Skelton) being able to play, but Kevin's had a very good week of practice and has played well.''

Skelton, who sprained his right ankle Sunday in the season opener against Seattle, hasn't practiced this week, although ''he did a little bit of work in the rehab stuff'' on Thursday, Whisenhunt said.

Skelton, who beat out Kolb for the starting job in preseason, had to be carted off the field in the fourth quarter. Kolb came on and completed 6 of 8 passes for 66 yards in the winning drive, capped by a 6-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts as Arizona won 20-16.

Skelton hasn't talked to the media this week.

Kolb came to Arizona with the idea of becoming the franchise quarterback a year ago, but struggled early in the season, then went down with a turf toe injury. Skelton came on and engineered a series of victories. Kolb returned and led the team to a victory over Dallas. But the following week, in a Dec. 11 game against San Francisco, he took a knee to the head on the third play and left with what turned out to be a season-ending concussion.

Skelton, 5-2 as a starter last season, came on and helped the team finish 8-8.

Counting Sunday's opener, the Cardinals have won eight of their last 10 games but have dropped five straight to the Patriots. Most recently, Arizona was blown out in a late-season trip to New England in 2008 only to go on to the Super Bowl.

Whisenhunt declared an open competition at quarterback between Skelton and Kolb in the offseason. Each player started two preseason games before the coach announced that Skelton - a third-year pro drafted in the fifth round out of Fordham - would be the starter.

Skelton had a good first half against the Seahawks but struggled in the third quarter before completing a crucial first-down pass to Andre Roberts on the play where he was injured.

If Skelton can't go on Sunday, Kolb's backup will be rookie Ryan Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State. Lindley was inactive against Seattle.

''You don't want to see that happen in week one,'' Lindley said about the injury to Skelton. ''It's a rude awakening, but that's why a lot of teams carry three guys and you've got to be ready for something like that.''

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Tagged: Cardinals, Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Andre Roberts, Ryan Lindley

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