TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona’s John Skelton will be back at starting quarterback when the Cardinals play the Seahawks on Sunday in Seattle.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose team is mired in an eight-game losing streak, announced after Wednesday’s practice that he would replace rookie Ryan Lindley after two starts.
He said the environment the Cardinals will face in Seattle, where the crowd is among the loudest in the NFL and the conditions are likely to be cold and wet, was “one of many factors” in his decision. Plus, the Seahawks have one of the NFL’s best defenses.
“There’s a number of reasons that we’re making this decision,” Whisenhunt said. “I’m not going to get into each one of these reasons, but that’s the direction we’re going.”
Skelton called it “another opportunity.”
“You can’t take any opportunity for granted,” he said. “If it comes at the beginning of the season, the end of the season, when you’re losing, when you’re winning, you’ve just got to take advantage of every opportunity you get.”
Skelton, a third-year pro from Fordham, beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting job in preseason, then went down late in the opener against Seattle with an ankle injury. Kolb came on to direct the winning touchdown drive against the Seahawks and helped the team get off to a 4-0 start.
When Kolb went out with a rib injury against Buffalo, Skelton came on and started the next four games before being benched in favor of Lindley after completing 2 of 7 passes and missing a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone early against Atlanta three weeks ago.
With Lindley making his second NFL start, the Cardinals had one of their worst offensive performances in franchise history in a 7-6 loss at the New York Jets last Sunday. Arizona tied a franchise record with five first downs and was 0 for 15 on third-down conversions. Lindley completed 10 of 31 passes for 72 yards and an interception.
The Cardinals gained 22 yards in the second half, but Whisenhunt chose to stick with Lindley rather than go back to Skelton during the game, a decision he reversed this week.
“I’ve been ready to go ever since coming out of the Atlanta game, had anything happened in that game, or leading up to where we are now, I’ve been ready the entire time,” Skelton said. “Whether they came to me or not, I was always going to be ready.”
Skelton called the experience of the past few weeks “humbling.”
“You’ve always got to take the good with the bad,” he said. “You can never let yourself get too high or too low. I think me being kind of even-keeled helps the situation. I don’t let myself worry about it too much. I know that it’s part of the game. The whole process, Anything on the field, off the field, is all a learning process. You’ve got to take it in stride.”
Asked if he was even-keeled even in the aftermath of the switch to Lindley, Skelton said, “I think about as much as I could have been, all things considered. It’s frustrating and everything but I don’t think I ever let my attitude get the better of me.”
Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State, said he understood and respected the decision.
“When you don’t perform like that, you don’t have much ground to argue on,” he said. “I didn’t play to where I think I’m capable. John’s going to step up and do his thing. I’m going to go to work and be the backup and be there if they need me.”
Lindley said he was not losing confidence.
“It was an off day, a perfect storm the way things happened,” he said. “It was a rough one but you’ve got to move on and pick up from there.”
He said there were two ways he could react to what has happened.
“You can let it eat you up or you can learn from this,” Lindley said. “I’m going to learn from this and move on.”
Kolb has missed six games and did not sound optimistic, acknowledging that his condition had not improved over the past two weeks as he practiced on a limited basis.
“When I really push it in the weight room, when I really try to push the ball downfield, that’s whenever I’m kind of hitting that wall,” he said.
Kolb said that cartilage pieces tore from the upper part of his rib cage and have not returned to their natural position as the injury healed.
“They’re laying underneath my sternum now, so that’s how they’re trying to heal,” he said. “Rather than healing where they’re butted up straight against it like a normal cracked rib or cracked cartilage when they’re flush with each other, mine are laid underneath there. So that’s kind of what extends the process.”
Kolb said he couldn’t answer whether he will play again this season but said he’s got to keep pushing “for myself, for my sanity.”