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The Topic Of Conversation

Posted Jul 25, 2012

Nothing new in QB competition, but it still dominates discussion

Quarterbacks John Skelton (19) and Kevin Kolb go through drills at practice Wednesday.

FLAGSTAFF – Narrowing down a choice of starting quarterback for the Cardinals will come from a few small details.

“Who took a shower that day. If they comb their hair or not. How closely shaved they were,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said, a smile creeping across his face.

Whisenhunt tried to keep a straight face, but really, the subject of Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton already has melted into a quip or two at best. The Cardinals had their first practice Wednesday afternoon, but nothing has really changed, other than the inevitable attention a quarterback competition brings at the outset of camp.

Everyone wants answers when there isn’t one yet.

“You know (the questions) are coming,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ll handle it how we have always. (The media) ask the question and I give the best answer I can.”

When the national media show up in Flagstaff, it is the quarterbacks that will be the top topic. It will certainly be the main focus of every preseason game. Kolb and Skelton expect it. There’s a chance practice completions – and incompletions – will be analyzed like it’s the 10th week of the season, as foolish as that would be.

But as Whisenhunt noted, the kind of thing he is looking to evaluate in eventually picking a starter can’t be seen by outside eyes.

“That position has so many different skill sets that have to operate at once, you have to see how they handle different components,” Whisenhunt said. “A lot of times in practices, things don’t come out the way you expect them too, and then you want to talk with them about what was their reasoning, their logic behind what happened. That’s part of the evaluation. Not just throwing that post through the tight window, but also when that’s not there, being successful, hitting a checkdown or next read. If not, why?”

There will be questions until it’s over, although that’s part of the gig. Scrutiny and speculation – and the same storylines – aren’t going away.

Kolb called competing for his job part of the NFL, something he’s said “a thousand times.” He may have been asked that many times just since midway through the 2011. “Every player in the NFL is used to (competing),” Kolb added. “I’m used to it.” Skelton calls this battle “exciting.”

“Everyone in the NFL is here for a reason,” Skelton said. “We all want to compete.”

They’re not going to say anything else. There’s nothing else they can say. And it’s not like they don’t genuinely feel that way either, even if both would probably rather just be named starter and be done with it.

The quarterbacks have gotten even a little more attention with the Cards the first team to start training camp. An NFL Network report intimated teammates lean toward backing Skelton over Kolb, something Whisenhunt quickly dismissed.

“I have no perception of that whatsoever, that that is going on. From what I have seen, standing in the huddle … the team responded to both guys and feel both guys can be successful for them,” Whisenhunt said.

“I’ve heard some guys say they want the best guy to lead our team. I’ve heard that before. But not that anyone is leaning toward anyone,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald deftly handles questions about quarterbacks better than anyone. He’s been through it plenty of times, whether it was back when Josh McCown and Shaun King and John Navarre were used in 2004 to Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner in 2006-08 to Leinart and Derek Anderson in 2010.

“You don’t pull for any one guy,” Fitzgerald said. “You have personal relationships with everybody. There is only one quarterback position and once that person is announced, we’ll stand behind him.”

Until then, the talk will be who completed what when, who threw what interception. Maybe at some point, there will be discussion about the beards of Kolb and Skelton. The questions will continue, although Fitzgerald insisted this round of Which-QB-Is-It-Anyway isn’t a big deal.

 “I think I was asked more when Kurt and Matt were competing,” Fitzgerald said. “This is kind of like, it’s child’s play almost.”


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