Injured quarterback Kevin Kolb talks to wide receivers Andre Roberts (left) and Larry Fitzgerald (right) during last week's game against the 49ers.
For three games, Kevin Kolb has had to watch.
That doesn't mean he hasn't been engaged, however.
"I feel like even if I'm not playing, I'm still a huge part of this team," Kolb said Wednesday, after getting enough work to produce optimism about playing Sunday in St. Louis. "I actually had people come request that I help them during the game, help them with (hot reads) and sights.
"John (Skelton) didn't say it, but (to) be there for John and help with through some stuff. Did I do any good? I don't know, but it felt good to be involved like that."
It isn't the way Kolb wants to be involved, of course. Estimating he took "35 to 40 percent" of the reps during Wednesday's practice and half of the scout team reps, Kolb sounded more upbeat about playing again than he had in a while.
He acknowledged he isn't 100 percent cleared to practice yet – he was still listed as limited – and said coach Ken Whisenhunt even told him "You better settle yourself down."
"Whenever you haven't done anything with the team in a couple of weeks, you are a little revved up," Whisenhunt said. "It wasn't so much pulling him back but calming him down. He fell right back into it once he got a couple of snaps, as far as the mechanics of it, calling it, understanding it, and getting those things done."
Splitting the reps with Skelton in practice is an issue, albeit unavoidable. Skelton said his mental reps will increase, especially after struggling so much in San Francisco last weekend, in order to be prepared for the Rams.
"You kind of have to tune in a little bit more because you are not going to get the opportunity to see every blitz or every look with every play we have," Skelton said.
Kolb is still fighting through pain on his right foot, where he has the turf toe, bone bruise and torn ligament. He said he thinks he knows how the foot will respond Thursday – and will allow him to continue – but it's impossible to know for sure before it happens.
The Cardinals hold out hope they will be bringing back a handful of key offensive players this week. Tight ends Todd Heap (hamstring) and Rob Housler (groin) were limited but there is some optimism they will be available.
"It's good to have those guys back -- Kevin and Todd and El Nino (Housler)," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "It's good to have a full complement of weapons."
Fitzgerald said Kolb was "crisp," admitting there was rust but that "it was good for the first day."
Whisenhunt wasn't announcing any starters, noting it was only Wednesday. Kolb said he was "absolutely" optimistic he could play Sunday, but those might have been the words of a quarterback simply anxious to return as quickly as possible. Kolb's ability to move around in the pocket over the course of the week will remain one of the key factors in any decision to play.
Kolb doesn't want to watch anymore, although in a glass-half full way, he is hoping he has reaped some benefits.
"You see a way another guy does it, the way he approaches plays different than you," Kolb said. "It's always been efficient. That's why you watch film. That's why in the offseason you study other quarterbacks. Maybe you can pick up a thing or two here and there, especially when they are running your offense."
Perhaps the injury and time away will allow Kolb to reset his play. The quarterback slumped in his last few games before the injury, struggling mightily in Baltimore (although he was playing with his injuries practically the whole game.
"Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn't," Kolb said. "I know there are pros and cons to (being out). Today, with how fast everything was moving, that's definitely a con. I'm sure we will build off of it and I'll work through the bad times and get back on track."