Quarterback John Skelton gets the start Thursday night in Tennessee.
NASHVILLE – It's a final start for John Skelton to show it shouldn't be his final start.
The third-year quarterback will get a second preseason start in Tennessee Thursday night, in a nationally televised ESPN game that is only fitting. The spotlight of the NFL has honed in on the Cardinals, given they are one of only a couple of teams left to name their starting quarterback for the regular season.
If last week's game ended up with a storyline of what Kevin Kolb did or did not do – with circumstances leaving Skelton with only five snaps, including a kneel-down – this week will be about Skelton's performance.
"You realize it's really your last chance to fine-tune everything," Skelton said.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week he doesn't see a reason to announce a starter before the preseason schedule is over (the Cards close out the preseason Aug. 30 against Denver). If he is leaning one way or the other, he hasn't said a word publicly.
Many assume Skelton, who has completed 10 of 15 passes for 90 yards, one touchdown and one interception, has an edge over Kolb, who has completed 5 of 15 passes for 47 yards and an interception.
"We never bring it up between the two of us," Skelton said. "There are always the jokesters on the team who will take jabs here and there. I think that anyone competing in anything knows the consequences of what is going on, whether it's out in the open and everyone is talking about it or you keep it to yourself. You know it's out there."
The uncertainty of the quarterback situation and when Whisenhunt could make a call plays into the preseason finale too. If Whisenhunt decides not to make an announcement before the Broncos game, another Kolb start would seem to be in the offing.
"I'm not saying I haven't given (the situation) any thought but in terms of when he makes the decision, I haven't given it any thought," Kolb said. In training camp, "I feel like I pushed every day," Kolb added. "You are going to make mistakes, have highs and lows. But that's how the season is going to go. You move forward."
Whisenhunt said he wanted to give Skelton the same kind of chance Kolb had last week with more snaps, although overall, Skelton has 33 snaps this preseason and Kolb 32. The starting offensive line – trying to overcome the loss of starting left tackle Levi Brown – will play into the second half, giving more opportunity for both Skelton and Kolb to play against the Titans.
Skelton said he has approached this game like any other one in the preseason. Unlike the regular season, which is about the opponent's coverages and blitzes and defensive tendencies, the preseason is about working on your own issues, Skelton said.
Showing your own strengths and proving you should be the starting quarterback couldn't be more fitting in that regard.
The rest of the roster expresses patience when it comes to waiting for a decision. Center Lyle Sendlein admitted it will be easier for the offense to formulate a consistent tempo once the starter is chosen, because each quarterback calls plays differently and has a different cadence.
"Once that is settled, we can make more adjustments to things like snap counts and tempo, maybe (run) some no-huddle," Sendlein said.
And on the defensive side of the ball, the group insists the quarterback issue is a moot point.
"Our job is to stop teams from scoring," safety Adrian Wilson said. "At the end of the day, whoever wins that job, congratulations. You're still going to be put under the microscope. You are the quarterback of the team but you have to put in the work. If you want that job, congratulations."