Coach upset with Cardinals starters after KC loss
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP)
The Arizona Cardinals are back at training camp for the first time in more than a week.
Happy campers, they aren't. Not after the starters played poorly in the Hall of Fame Game preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints, then worse in Friday's loss in Kansas City.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Monday that a few of the starters got it right in the 27-17 loss to the Chiefs. The rest have a lot of work to do, and the coach promised they will get their chance in prolonged playing time in Arizona's first home preseason game on Friday night against Oakland.
Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb says he understands why Whisenhunt wants to see his regulars on the field longer.
''I think I'd do the same thing,'' Kolb said. ''None of us have any complaints about that because we've got to get it right. We've got three games to get it right, 28 days, and we're definitely not there yet.''
There will be no scripted limit to playing time.
''When they get it right, maybe they'll come out,'' Whisenhunt said.
Meanwhile, the competition for starting quarterback between Kolb and John Skelton seems nowhere near resolution.
''I'm not going to macro-analyze that,'' Whisenhunt said. ''We're going to go through this process and when we feel like we've made the decision with that, I'm sure we'll let you know.''
Kolb will start on Friday night as the two contenders take turns until that decision is made. Neither has managed anything close to a breakthrough performance in their brief time on the field in the first two games. Kolb is just 2 of 9 for 25 yards, his playing time reduced when he left the Saints game in the third series with bruised ribs.
He was 1 of 5 for 21 against Kansas City and had one pass dropped. Skelton has completed 7 of 12 for 67 yards with one interception. Against Kansas City, he was 3 of 6 for 35 yards with one pick.
Neither has thrown a touchdown pass.
Kolb said the competition with Skelton is ''just making myself a better player.''
''I don't necessarily get caught up in day-to-day, `How did John do, how did I do?' I get caught up into, `How did I do?' Kolb said. ''Obviously at this point I want to get better.''
Of course, quarterback play doesn't entirely depend on the quarterback. The offensive line has struggled protecting either quarterback, and wide receivers have run wrong routes. The team's top two running backs, Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, are coming off knee operations and didn't play a down in either game.
Williams said he expects to play against the Raiders. Wells might be another week away. The team also should soon get the services of tight end Jeff King, who was activated Monday from the physically unable to perform list. King had been recovering from a quadriceps injury sustained in summer workouts.
The Cardinals had stayed in Missouri to practice after going to Canton for the Hall of Fame encounter.
So Whisenhunt wanted Monday's workout to be something of an intense affair for a squad not happy about its play.
The team's afternoon practice, though, was forced indoors, to Northern Arizona University's Skydome, at the last minute by a thunderstorm. The offense's performance there was often as sloppy as the weather was outside.
Kolb and Skelton threw interceptions, passes were overthrown, passes were underthrown. Receivers ran wrong routes. The offensive line had trouble.
The defense fared better as coordinator Ray Horton kept repeating ''Not sometimes, all of the time,'' meaning do your assignment every snap, not just once in a while.
The defense has swallowed a couple of doses of humility in the preseason games.
It had confidently strode around training camp the acknowledged strength of the team, based on its performance as a leading factor in the Cardinals' 7-2 finish last season.
Then came the preseason. In Game 1, Drew Brees methodically marched the Saints downfield for a touchdown after the opening kickoff. In Game 2, Matt Cassel engineered a pair of 72-yard TD drives the first two times the chiefs had the ball.
''You want to be three-and-out,'' linebacker O'Brien Schofield said. ''You don't want to have a team drive down the field and score a touchdown and then drive down the field and score another touchdown. That can be deflating, especially if you want to get your offense going.''
Schofield said the coaches ''were upset because we were messing up on the small, little things. Things that we were doing well last year, we haven't done well yet.''
A good defense last year doesn't mean a good defense this year, even though almost all of the players are the same.
''I've been very clear about the fact that you don't carry over what you had from last season,'' Whisenhunt said. ''Every year should start as a new year. Now you can have confidence because of the way you played last year. But it doesn't mean you're going to be good.
''We'll see if our guys can get back to that point.''