Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb shows improvement but will it be enough to win the job?

Kolb led a TD drive but he also threw two interceptions against the Titans. (Getty Images)

Here's the good news: Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb played his best game of the preseason against the Titans Thursday. Unfortunately, it still may not be enough to win the war of attrition he's currently waging with John Skelton for the starter's job.

First, the highlights: Kolb, who relieved Skelton midway through the second quarter, led a seven-play, 86-yard scoring drive to end the first half that including a 53-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald and a three-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Roberts.

Now the lowlights: Just when it looked like Kolb may have cleared some mental hurdle that has plagued him since he arrived in Arizona last summer, his first pass of the third quarter was a pick-six.  By the time it was over, Kolb's numbers were respectable: 17 of 22 for 156 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs. And during a sideline interview after his night was over, he spoke honestly about his struggles with consistency.

"I think we found a rhythm but I obviously can't turn the ball over like I did," he told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "The one (interception), no reason to throw back across your body, and the second one I just didn't see him -- the linebacker made a great play on it. But I can't put my team in that kind of position. Besides that, I thought we moved the ball well those three drives and we found something there with our no-huddle."

Despite one setback after another since being traded from the Eagles to the Cardinals, Kolb remains exceedingly upbeat. "You show your true character when you're down and I've always tried to rally myself behind that," he said. … "I think it shows a lot about us as a team whenever we can come back from the situations that I put us in."

And that's been the problem: the Cardinals have needed to come back because of Kolb. Earlier this week, former Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner said "I see the same thing I saw last year (with Kolb). I see a guy who hasn't been able to grasp the system enough to slow the game down, or he doesn't have confidence in what he's seeing. Maybe he understands what the offense is asking him to do, but the game is going too fast, and he's not pulling the trigger."

We saw instances of that in Tennessee. Obviously, it's not entirely Kolb's fault. Last season, the defense didn't find its stride until the second half of the year, and this preseason, the offensive line has been abysmal, including Thursday night when Kolb was sacked on his first play from scrimmage and spent much of the rest of evening running for his life.

But coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn't appear to be in a hurry to name a starter, even with the regular season less than three weeks away. Conventional wisdom has the coach leaning towards Skelton although Kolb admits to having no insight into the matter.

"I don't know. That's up to (Whisenhunt), that's his decision," he said. "All you can do is fight, that's why I try to do every time I'm on the field and hopefully he knows what I'm all about now."

Nichols then asked Kolb why he deserved the job. "I finally felt like I was in a game atmosphere tonight. I was in rhythm whenever we did get the ball moving there and I think the guys felt the tempo," he said. "And tempo is a big thing for us, I think that's how we're going to have to play."

Coincidentally, it was two years ago today that Matt Leinart, the Cardinals' 2006 first-round pick, went to Tennessee as Arizona's starting quarterback only to lose his job to Derek Anderson. Leinart now plays for the Raiders and Anderson is in Carolina. We're guessing Whisenhunt would love to have either QB on his roster now. takes you inside the Arizona Cardinals training camp to see what the staff does to get the best out of its players and prepare for the marathon that is the NFL season.

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CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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