Arizona's Skelton back at QB after Kolb injury


Arizona's Skelton back at QB after Kolb injury

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) John Skelton won a long, tight competition to become starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, only to go down with a sprained ankle in the final minutes of the season opener.

Five games and another quarterback injury later, Skelton is starting again.

Kevin Kolb, who replaced Skelton in the opener and helped the Cardinals get off to a 4-0 start, is out indefinitely with rib and chest injuries sustained Sunday when Arizona was beaten at home by Buffalo 19-16 in overtime.

It was the Cardinals' second straight loss.

Now Skelton steps in to lead the Cardinals to Minnesota to face the Vikings on Sunday - and try to figure out how to succeed behind an offensive line that allowed Kolb to be sacked 22 times in the last three games.

Switching quarterbacks is nothing new for the Cardinals. Through the preseason, Skelton and Kolb took turns as starters. Whisenhunt didn't anoint Skelton until nine days before the regular-season opener.

``It's too much of a big deal,'' wide receiver Andre Roberts said after Wednesday's practice. ``You know we had John at the beginning of the year, we had him in camp, so it's not like we're bringing somebody in new that we haven't played with.

``John's been here for a while. We understand what he brings to the table, so it won't be that big of an adjustment.''

Skelton, a fifth-round draft pick out of Fordham in 2010, is 8-4 as a starter. He stands 6-foot-6 and has a rocket for an arm, although he sometimes struggles with accuracy. Last Sunday was the first time Skelton had been active since the injury - and the rust showed.

After Kolb went down, Skelton completed 2 of 10 for 45 yards. He did complete a fourth-down pass to Larry Fitzgerald to set up a 38-yard field goal try by Jay Feely that would have given Arizona the victory. But the kick was deflected and careened off the left upright, sending the game into overtime.

In the overtime, the Bills punted on their first possession, but Skelton threw an interception that set up Buffalo's winning field goal.

Skelton said that having a full week of practice with the starters will help him get back into the proper rhythm.

``Instead of just mentally repping everything like you do when you're the backup or inactive or what have you, you get to run it,'' he said. ``You get to see against a defense. You get to experience it out there. It just makes the week go by that much easier because you are more comfortable with everything, and then come Sunday you are ready for everything that comes.''

He'd better be ready for Jared Allen and the rest of the Vikings' pass rush. Kolb was pounded mercilessly in the last three games as the line struggled, particularly on the edge, where tackles D'Anthony Batiste and rookie Bobby Massie often seemed hopelessly outmatched.

Skelton said there are things he can do to mitigate the rush.

``A lot of it is getting the ball out of your hands quick,'' he said. ``There are times where you're going to get sacked and there's nothing you can do about it. There are other times when you can get the ball out of your hand quick. You can throw it away. You can flee the pocket sooner. Ultimately, everybody has to do their job.''

Skelton found it difficult to watch Kolb do the job he had fought for and, briefly, won.

``It's frustrating more than anything,'' Skelton said, ``to put in all the hard work in the past years and offseason, getting named the starter the way I was, and then kind of have it disappear and taken away from you that early.''

Now it's Kolb's turn to be frustrated. Brought to Arizona as the supposed franchise quarterback, he struggled a year ago, then was sidelined twice by injury, first with turf toe, then with a concussion.

After all that, he lost the fight for the starting job.

When he relieved the injured Skelton late in the fourth quarter of the opener, he directed the winning touchdown drive. Three more victories gave him a measure of redemption. Surviving the onslaught of the pass rush erased any doubt of his toughness.

But he's likely out for several weeks. That gives Skelton another chance.

``John has been in this role before,'' Whisenhunt said. ``John has played where he hasn't gotten a lot of snaps and John did well, so we expect John to go in there and do a good job.''

If something happens to Skelton, the only option will be Ryan Lindley, a rookie drafted in the sixth round out of San Diego State. Lindley has never taken an NFL regular-season snap.


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Sam Dekker happy to be with Wizards, back on court again following trade


Sam Dekker happy to be with Wizards, back on court again following trade

Injuries had limited Sam Dekker to only nine games this season with the Cavaliers, who he joined just this past summer in a trade. He hadn't played in a month. Yet, with only nine players available after Otto Porter Jr.'s injury on Monday against the Pacers, head coach Scott Brooks was left without much of a choice.

So, Dekker was summoned off the bench to make his debut with Washington, the third team he has called home all within this calendar year. Though the game amounted in a loss, Dekker's start with the Wizards could not have gone much better.

They instantly went on a 19-0 run to climb back into the game and Dekker played his part in it. He scored on a dunk, had two steals, a rebound and an assist. 

For Dekker, after missing weeks due to a left ankle injury, it was just good to get back out there.

"There was definitely some rust to knock off," Dekker said. "Our trainer was laughing at me. He said 'I've never seen someone drink their water so fast in a timeout.' My bottle was gone."

The dust will ultimately settle, but it has been a tumultuous few days for Dekker. He was still getting adjusted to the Cavs organization when on Friday night his name popped up in trade rumors. His phone started buzzing with "hundreds" of messages from friends and family.

At first, it looked like Dekker was going to Milwaukee, back to his home state and not far from where he starred at the University of Wisconsin.

"I didn't answer to any of them because I did not feel like I was going to Milwaukee," Dekker said. "Something was telling me that was not the case. It just didn't make sense in my head. So, I was like 'no way.' "

Sure enough, Dekker's gut feeling was proven correct. Soon after he was tied to Milwaukee, full details of the trade were released. It was a three-team deal and he was off to Washington, the fourth team in his young career.

The 24-year-old has been traded three times now. That's a lot of moving for he and his wife, Olivia.

"This is the third time I've made her move, so that's no fun. I feel terrible about that," he said. "But she's been awesome. She's been keeping me grounded through all of this."

Dekker said the first order of business after he was dealt to Washington was finding a sitter for his dog, Riggins. He had a 6 a.m. flight the next morning. 

Now, he is in the process of breaking a lease in Cleveland and looking for a new place in the Washington area.

"There's a lot more to it than people understand. They think we just put a new jersey on," Dekker said of getting traded.

Dekker's time with the Wizards has been a whirlwind so far. Things will calm down and, as he says, it all comes back to basketball.

"The one constant is playing hoops. Last night, to get on the court finally, that is one thing that feels like home," he said.


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John Wall making progress but his status, along with Otto Porter's, in doubt vs. Celtics

John Wall making progress but his status, along with Otto Porter's, in doubt vs. Celtics

The Wizards look ahead to their first meeting of the season with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday with two starters considered day-to-day with injuries.

John Wall missed their last game, against the Pacers on Monday, with bone spurs in his left heel. Otto Porter Jr. left the game with a right knee contusion.

The Wizards held a light practice on Tuesday that featured a film session and a walkthrough. Porter only participated in the film session. Wall watched film and then went through a workout guided by assistant coaches afterwards.

"We will find out tomorrow," head coach Scott Brooks said about their status.

The answer will likely come shortly before the game starts. The Wizards do not have a scheduled shootaround.

Wall's absence on Monday marked the first game he's missed this season due to injury. He did not play last week against the Hawks because of personal reasons.

The heel injury is something Wall has been dealing with on-and-off for a long time.

"He fights through a lot of things. He's done this with his heel for four, five, or six years - I don't even know, long before I was here," Brooks said. 

"He just fights through it. He's done, along with our staff, has done a good job of monitoring it. It flared up, but it's calmed down. We just have to always be on the lookout."

Wall was also sick in addition to working through some off-court matters. But the fact he went through an individual workout would appear to be a good sign he can return on Wednesday against the Celtics.