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Sorting QBs In Tennessee

Answer of starter still unclear after 32-27 loss to Titans


Quarterback Kevin Kolb looks to pass during Thursday night's 32-27 loss in Tennessee.

NASHVILLE – With one preseason game left, Ken Whisenhunt still isn't giving any hints about who he will name as his starting quarterback this season.

It's hard to tell if Thursday night's game against the Tennessee Titans gave him the information he needed for his decision. Or at least the information for which he had been hoping. If anything, the situation might have gotten murkier.

"It sure seems that way," Whisenhunt said after a 32-27 loss at LP Field.

John Skelton's start, behind new left tackle D.J. Young, didn't go well, with a sack on the first play and an interception on the first pass. Kevin Kolb, in relief, got better protection as D'Anthony Batiste moved to the left tackle and better production when passing. But Kolb also threw two ill-advised interceptions – one returned for a touchdown – that pumped the brakes on what could have been a very good night.

"I'm glad I don't have to make the (quarterback) decision," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, acknowledging how close the competition has been.

Skelton finished 4-for-10 for 41 yards. Kolb was 17-for-22 for 156 yards, a touchdown and the two picks.

With Young starting – and struggling – Whisenhunt acknowledged that the previous protection problems that had hindered Kolb "flipped" and now caused Skelton problems. The no-huddle helped Kolb later with the protection.

"I need to look at the tape, look at the reads, where the protections broke down, what the quarterback was looking at" before making an evaluation of either quarterback's performance, Whisenhunt said.

Protection wasn't Skelton's only issue. Tight end Todd Heap and wide receiver Michael Floyd each couldn't hang on to what looked like catchable balls, which might have changed the complexion of Skelton's day. His interception, however, was forced, Skelton said.

"It's frustrating getting out of the game that early and seeing the offense get into a flow," Skelton said. "But you have to make the most of your opportunities and I don't feel I did."

The flow came right before the half, when Kolb suddenly found Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, who had just two preseason catches coming into the game, got behind the defense for a 53-yard gain. That and some use of the no-huddle sparked a drive ending with an Andre Roberts touchdown catch. The Cards were also going to get the ball to begin the second half down just 17-10 despite mostly poor offense.

But Kolb, whose first interception didn't hurt the Cards, threw his very first pass of the second half directly to Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy, who returned it 31 yards for a touchdown.

"I never saw him," Kolb said. "Just a bad read. You've got to see him, no ifs, ands, or buts about it."

Kolb's night ended on the next drive, when he led the offense to a field goal on a possession that started on the Arizona 11-yard line, and seemingly made up at least some ground in his battle with Skelton.

"It never even crossed my mind, the competition part," Kolb said. "I just want to play good football for myself and the team."

The starting defense gave up some points but held star Titans running back Chris Johnson to only 27 yards on 13 carries. Whisenhunt was pleased his team rallied from a 17-3 deficit to take a lead, and the Cardinals (1-3) might have been able to hold on without two late lost fumbles deep in their own territory, once by punt returner Jaymar Johnson and once by quarterback Ryan Lindley when rookie guard Senio Kelemete was beaten for a sack.

The fact the Cards still had a chance to win – Lindley led the Cards into the red zone in the closing seconds – despite five total turnovers was surprising in itself.

"We can't turn the ball over," Whisenhunt said. "That was disturbing."

Running back Beanie Wells made his return, looking and feeling rusty but healthy on six carries for 12 yards, with not many holes to be found behind the starting offensive line. Fitzgerald finished with five catches for 91 yards.

"If I just cut out the turnovers, the two bad balls, we did a lot of good things," Kolb said. "That's my fault. Good thing this doesn't count on the schedule."

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