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Kevin Kolb, John Skelton are splitting first-team snaps for Cardinals

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
'I've said it a hundred times,' Kolb says. 'Look, if you are afraid to compete in this league, go home.' (Getty Images)

Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt spoke about it in February, again in March, and now that offseason workouts have begun, words have become reality: Kevin Kolb and John Skelton will compete for the starting job, even though the former was acquired in a trade last offseason that sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-rounder to the Eagles for the promise of a franchise quarterback.

Instead, Arizona forked over a $63 million extension that included $20 million in guarantees and Kolb ended up playing in just nine games because of injuries. Worse, his production wasn't much different from Skelton, who eventually replaced him. Kolb threw for 1,955 yards, including 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 57.7; Skelton went for 1,913 yards, 11 TDs, 14 INTs, with a 54.9 completion percentage.

Kolb took first-team reps at Wednesday's practice after Skelton had the honors Tuesday. And the plan, presumably, is to alternate into the summer and preseason until a starter emerges.

During an appearance on Rome earlier this month, Whisenhunt said splitting time would be the plan but warned that the job wouldn't be gifted to Kolb simply because of his contract situation.

“That's the question that's going to be answered through the workouts this spring and in training camp this summer," he said. "I think the knee-jerk reaction would be to say that it is Kevin's job to lose. But then you have to look at what John Skelton did last year in winning those games when he was in there. So I think you have to give John a lot of credit for winning those games.

"I certainly have a lot of respect for Kevin and what he's done in this league and we made the commitment to bring him in to our football team. So it's going to start out as even as it possibly can, and we're going to let the best player take it from there. We did that many years ago when we had Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart, and it worked out pretty good for us. So hopefully we'll have that same kind of magic.”

Whisenhunt wasn't clear on who would reprise the role of Leinart and who would be Warner, but that's an important detail if you're Kolb or Skelton.

Either way, Kolb sounded unconcerned Wednesday.

“I've said it a hundred times: ‘Look, if you are afraid to compete in this league, go home,'” he said. “There is a lot of time between now and (the season) and a lot of time to prove yourself.”

And this may be Kolb's last chance in Arizona, at least at his current salary. The Cards were in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes this spring because they thought they could upgrade the position with a 36-year-old coming off multiple neck surgeries over the guy they signed to a lucrative long-term deal the year before.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.
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