Playing one more exhibition game than usual was going to give the Arizona Cardinals additional time to evaluate their quarterbacks.
That was one line of thinking back in February when the NFL announced the Cardinals and New Orleans Saints as participants in the Hall of Fame Game.
True to form, the Cardinals will take every opportunity to check out their quarterbacks. But when they conclude the preseason against Denver on Thursday night, Kevin Kolb and John Skelton won't be among the QBs on the field.
Rookie Ryan Lindley is getting the start even though Whisenhunt says he has yet to decide upon a starter for Week 1.
As much as Kolb, Skelton and the first-team offense could use the work, the injury risks might be too acute under the circumstances. The Broncos have fearsome pass-rushers. The Cardinals have concerns at offensive tackle. Kolb and Skelton have taken too many hits. Arizona has already played its usual allotment of preseason games. And if Whisenhunt has already made his decision, there's even less reason to evaluate Kolb and Skelton.
The Cardinals will probably need both Kolb and Skelton this season. They might even need Lindley, a player they're excited about for the future.
Whisenhunt's thinking runs counter to the approach Arizona's Week 1 opponent, Seattle, plans to take in the final week of exhibition games. The Seahawks, having played only three exhibition games to this point, plan for recently named starter Russell Wilson to play against Oakland on Thursday night. Wilson, as a rookie, owns only one preseason start. The experience he gains against the Raiders could provide a short-term payoff for a first-team offense without much game experience together.
The chart shows where NFC West starting quarterbacks (and potential starters) stand in offensive snaps with one exhibition game remaining. Wilson has taken the most, by far. He'll add to that 112-snap count Thursday night.