Skelton has high hopes in return to starting job

TEMPE, Ariz. There are plenty of things quarterback John Skelton hopes to do, now that he has regained the Cardinals starting job by default. There’s one thing he hopes he doesn’t have to do: Run the ball.

“Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to that,” Skelton said. “I’m no RG3.”

Skelton admits that Redskins QB Robert Griffin III’s performance last week against the Vikings (the Cards’ opponents this week) was impressive. Griffin ran for 138 yards. Skelton also was impressed by erstwhile starter Kevin Kolb’s 66 yards on five rushes last week.

“None of those were called runs, either,” Skelton noted.

But running is not Skelton’s strength. Besides, the 4-2 Cardinals can ill afford to lose another quarterback now that Kolb is out indefinitely with a sprain of the SC joint and cartilage damage in his ribs. CT and MRI results showed no fracture in Kolb’s ribs or sternum, but coach Ken Whisenhunt declined to put a timetable on Kolb’s recovery, despite multiple published reports that it could be anywhere from six to eight weeks.

“A lot of it’s going to depend on how he heals, how he gets the soreness out,” Whisenhunt said. “I’m not trying to dodge the question. I just don’t know. A lot of it’s going to depend on how he feels. I can’t tell you how that’s going to be.”

Whisenhunt didn’t show any inclination to sign another quarterback to avoid going with just two while Kolb is out.

“We kind of did that the first couple of weeks, didn’t we?” he said. “It’s not a lot different. The only difference is John’s coming back off the ankle (sprain), but it seems like it’s fine. It is a little bit scary when you only have two, but a lot of teams are doing it now.”
Kolb was injured late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 19-16 overtime loss to the Bills when he scrambled on a busted play and was tackled by two players, landing on top of the football.

Kolb missed about half of his first season as a Cardinal in 2011 with foot and head (concussion) injuries. He was relegated to the backup role when the season started, but Skelton suffered an ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of a Week 1 game against Seattle, ending his first starting gig almost before began.

“It’s frustrating more than anything, having put in all the hard work the last few years and then getting named the starter the way I was,” Skelton said. “To have it disappear, to have it taken away from you that early, it’s just unfortunate.”

Skelton understands the challenge ahead. The Cardinals’ offensive line woes have been well-chronicled, with tackles Bobby Massie and D’Anthony Batiste coming under particular fire. The club also is without its top two running backs (Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams), and tight end Todd Heap, a big crutch for a young quarterback, has missed the past four games and was limited again in Wednesday’s practice.

Without all those weapons, Skelton knows he could be under pressure again from a tough Vikings defensive front that features end Jared Allen, is tied for 11th in the NFL with 15 sacks and seems to play inspired ball at the noisy Metrodome. The Vikes are also 4-2.

“A lot of it is getting the ball out of your hand quick,” Skelton said, when asked the key to limiting sacks. “But there’s times where you’re going to get sacked no matter what.”

One thing Skelton isn’t concerned about is rust. He said he shook off most of it in his relief appearance last Sunday. With a full week to prepare as the starter, the rest should be gone by Sunday.

“It’s not like we’re going from the end of last year to the beginning of this year,” he said. “You’re still mentally dialed in. You’re still ready, you still see a hot (receiver/route) on camera or on film.”

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