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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Soaring expectations for Kolb-led Cardinals

By Mike Sando

ESPN's John Clayton envisions Larry Fitzgerald approaching 115 receptions and the Arizona Cardinals improving by about three victories with Kevin Kolb as the team's new quarterback.

"Mike & Mike" has the audio.

Kolb made a very positive impression during Clayton's recent trip to Cardinals training camp at Northern Arizona University. Kolb also impressed when I visited Cardinals camp earlier, more for his demeanor and leadership potential than for the limited snaps we've seen him take for the Cardinals during practices and the team's lone preseason game.

Injuries stand out to me as the biggest threat to Kolb. He's no lightweight at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, but my first impression at practice was that Kolb would benefit from a full offseason in the Cardinals' strength program. It was just an impression. And no matter how frequently coach Ken Whisenhunt downplays fears over Arizona's offensive tackles, those fears exist for a reason. Levi Brown and Brandon Keith have not demonstrated over time an ability to protect the passer at a high level by NFL standards.

We're all projecting, obviously, and I'm more conservative in making assessments based on practices and games that do not count. There's every reason to think Kolb will easily clear the low bar set for him by Arizona quarterbacks last season.

A stat to consider: Kolb tossed six touchdown passes in four starts last season. The Cardinals had 10 touchdown passes in 16 games.