Cardinals to start rookie QB Ryan Lindley
Rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley will get his chance to revive the dormant Arizona offence, making his first NFL start when the Cardinals are home against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt announced his decision to go with the sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State after practice Wednesday.
John Skelton, benched in favour of Lindley early in last Sunday's 23-19 loss at Atlanta, said he is "frustrated" with the situation.
Meanwhile, quarterback Kevin Kolb, out for four games with a rib injury, was able to participate in part of practice and said he was encouraged by his progress.
Lindley is the third player this year to start at quarterback for the Cardinals, who have lost six straight after starting the season 4-0.
Whisenhunt gave Skelton the hook after the quarterback missed a wide open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone, one of several errant throws by the quarterback early in the game. Lindley was just 9 o 20 for 64 yards in relief of Skelton, but once the change was made, it seemed obvious the rookie would keep the job, at least until Kolb is healthy enough to play.
"He did a nice job in a hostile environment handling the game, without a lot of practice during the week," Whisenhunt said. "So where we are as a team and as an offence, it gives us a chance to see what he can do, see if he can't get, with a week of practice, if he can get in there and get us going and help us move the ball and score some points."
Arizona's offence ranks 31st out of 32 NFL teams, 30th in passing and 26th in rushing.
Whisenhunt said he likes how comfortable Lindley seems to be on the field.
"The speed of the game, getting used to that, being able to be comfortable with the offence and make the reads and the throws, he's done a nice job with that since he's been here," the coach said. "A lot of that's because he played a lot in college, but we'll see with a week of practice how he handles that. He got that in the preseason, the last preseason game, so hopefully it's a little more familiar with him."
Lindley downplayed any chance nerves would bother him when he takes the field Sunday.
"I don't really get nervous," he said. "I think more right now it's just getting the reps in practice is what I want to do. I just want to make sure I'm ready because if I'm prepared, I'm ready to go, come Sunday it's just about getting it done and there's nothing really to it but to just do it when I'm out there. I'm going to be excited. I'm probably going to have to take a deep breath and make sure I'm cool, calm and composed. But that's more excitement, not nervousness."
It will help that the game is at home.
"I know that not having to deal with the noise, with the guys having the advantage on the edge rushing, that's always something that is better about playing at home," Whisenhunt said.
The 6-foot-3, 232-pound Lindley was a four-year starter at San Diego State, finishing with a school record 49 consecutive starts. In the process, he set Mountain West Conference records for completions (961), attempts (1,732), yards passing (12,690) and total offence (12,415).
He was inactive in Arizona's season opener but moved up to the No. 2 quarterback spot when first Skelton, then Kolb, was injured.
"My main goal was to just get better every week," Lindley said. "I knew the chips were going fall where they were. I don't think anybody can predict the future so I didn't spent much time doing that. I just made sure if it ever happened I was ready and I got better every week."
Kolb was listed as limited, the first time he had practiced at all since he was injured late in the team's overtime loss to Buffalo on Oct. 14. The team's success early came with Kolb at quarterback. He came off the bench to direct the winning touchdown drive when Skelton went down with an ankle injury late in the opener against Seattle. Kolb was at the controls in subsequent wins over New England, Philadelphia and Miami, but was sacked nine times in a loss at St. Louis, then hurt late in the Buffalo game.
"There was some stuff that affected me a little bit, but I think overall it was very positive," he said after practice. "I'm not going to set a time or a date. I checked out good afterward. We'll see how the soreness is tomorrow and then move from there."
Kolb said that he could feel the "overall wear and tear" of throwing the ball so much after such a long time off.
He said he also could feel the soreness when he was "really trying to come across on one, a reactionary-type throw where he buzzes open late and you've got to turn and make an accurate, athletic throw, you have to be able to do that in the game obviously. The throw was still accurate today the couple of times I did do it, so that's good."
Skelton, who beat out Kolb for the starting job in the preseason, started losses to Minnesota, San Francisco and Green Bay before being benched last Sunday.
He said he was frustrated with "the whole situation."
"Obviously losing six in a row is frustrating," Skelton said, "and then what transpired on Sunday and now the benching. It's frustrating."