QB situation under spotlight at Cardinals camp
The Arizona Cardinals get an early start to training camp, thanks to their appearance in the Hall of Fame Game and the top story line is the same as its been for the franchise since Kurt Warner called it quits: Quarterback.
Players reported Tuesday, with the first workout in the cooler temperature and thin air among the scenic pines of Northern Arizona University on Wednesday.
From the first snap, the most important decision for coach Ken Whisenhunt will be whether to stick with Kevin Kolb or sit the expensive acquisition and give the reins to young John Skelton, strong armed and erratic but with a knack for pulling off late victories.
''Obviously I know how much we invested in Kevin,'' Whisenhunt said. ''I want Kevin to be successful. I want him to be our quarterback but I'm not going to ignore the fact that John Skelton worked pretty hard and did a good job when he was in there playing, too.
''He's earned the right to compete for that spot.''
The two will split reps until Whisenhunt believes it's time to make a decision. Just how long that will take is anyone's guess.
Whisenhunt loves competition, and he likes to put the pressure on just to see how the players respond. Kolb publicly says he welcomes the test. Skelton says he has been assured he will get a fair shot.
''I've said it a hundred times,'' Kolb said earlier this year. ''Look, if you're afraid to compete in this league, go home. That's the way I look at it. I look forward to it being my job but at the same time you've got to come out here and battle every day.''
The training camp also will be an opportunity for first-round draft pick Michael Floyd to move up the depth chart against returning receivers Andre Roberts and Early Doucet.
Larry Fitzgerald, of course, lords over all things receiving in training camp and the addition of the tall, talented Floyd is designed to give Kolb or Skelton another big, sure-handed target.
The team also needs to work on the tweaks made to the offensive line, an inconsistent part of the team, at best, last year.
Free agent signee Adam Snyder moves in at right guard. At right tackle, Jeremy Bridges could be pressed by fourth-round draft pick Bobby Massie, all 6-foot-6, 316 pounds of him.
Quarterbacks aside, Arizona enters camp with optimism after winning seven of their last nine games to finish 8-8. The Cardinals missed the playoffs, but the fact the team didn't roll over after a six-game losing streak bodes well for the roster's character makeup.
The strong finish can be traced to the vastly improved defense under first-year coordinator Ray Horton. The defense returns virtually intact and has some additions at cornerback in free agent acquisition William Gay and third-round draft pick Jamell Fleming, who was impressive in earlier workouts.
The Cardinals have their conditioning test Wednesday morning, with a workout in the afternoon. They will have two daily workouts - one a walkthrough as per NFL rules - on Thursday and Friday, then practice once on Saturday.
The team takes Sunday off, then has five more days of practice in Flagstaff before heading to Canton, Ohio to face the New Orleans Saints. There's not much left of camp in Flagstaff after that.
The following week Arizona practices in Kansas City leading up to a game against the Chiefs. The Cardinals return to Flagstaff Aug. 13-15, then again Aug. 20 and 21 before moving operations from the 7,000-foot elevation of their longtime camp facility to the searing heat of their practice fields in Tempe.