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Kevin Kolb, John Skelton eye Cardinals quarterback job

Training camp is finally almost here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.

Top 30 training camp position battles


No. 30: Seahawks running backs
No. 29: Packers No. 3 receiver
No. 28: Broncos backup running back
No. 27: Bengals cornerbacks
No. 26: Raiders backup quarterback
No. 25: Cardinals receiver
No. 24: Jets right tackle
No. 23: Jets linebacker
No. 22: Redskins running back
No. 21: Giants No. 3 receiver
No. 20: Patriots receiver
No. 19: Colts tight end
No. 18: Rams receivers
No. 17: Jaguars quarterbacks
No. 16: Bears wide receivers
No. 15: NFL safety battles
No. 14: Jaguars No. 2 receiver
No. 13: Bears left tackle
No. 12: Randy Moss vs. Father time
No. 11: Lions receivers
No. 10: Cardinals running back
No. 9: Ravens pass rusher
No. 8: Dolphins quarterback
No. 7: Buccaneers running back
No. 6: Steelers defensive end
No. 5: Dolphins wide receiver
No. 4: Cardinals quarterback
No. 3: The Oakland Raiders
No. 2: Titans quarterback
No. 1: Seahawks quarterback

No. 4: Starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals

One year ago, nearly to the day, the Cardinals made the decision to trade cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire quarterback Kevin Kolb, whom they then signed to a five-year, $62.1 million extension that has already paid out $19.5 million. So why is Kolb entering training camp in a battle for the starting job with John Skelton, a 2010 fifth-round pick from football powerhouse Fordham University?

For starters, Kolb was hamstrung by the brief window to learn Ken Whisenhunt's offense after the lockout. In nine games, Kolb completed 57.7 percent of 253 pass attempts for 1,955 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions for an 81.1 passer rating Kolb also struggled with injuries, first with a toe injury and then a concussion that ended his season in December.

While Kolb was sidelined with injury, which coincided with Skelton leapfrogging Richard Bartel on the depth chart, the Cardinals won more games (five wins in Skelton's seven starts) and climbed back into the playoff race. Even though Skelton had a lower completion percentage, threw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (11) and had a passer rating (68.9) lower than former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow in nearly the same number of attempts, Whisenhunt's belief that "quarterback wins" is a viable statistic (it's not) has Skelton entering training camp on equal footing with Kolb.

Projected Winner: Whisenhunt's own playing career -- a 12th-round pick who clawed his way to a 74-game career -- is why finances and draft pick investments will not be a determining factor in this quarterback battle. Even if the front office is crossing its fingers that Kolb wins the battle, he'll have to do so by remaining off the trainer's table and with his on-field performance. Kolb is unlikely to ever match Kurt Warner's production, but with a full offseason to acclimate to the system, he should win the job this summer. That does not mean this organization won't be looking for a quarterback again in 2013, though.

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