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Cardinals: Kevin Kolb, John Skelton on even playing field

Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt tells Jim Rome of "Rome" that the competition between quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton will start as evenly as possible and be decided on the practice field and in preseason games.

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"That's the question that's going to be answered through the workouts this spring and in training camp this summer," Whisenhunt said, via Michael David Smith of "They've both been working hard at it. It's been good to get out on the field and actually work on techniques and fundamentals with these guys. At times last year they both showed they can do good things. But consistency at that position is something we've got to improve on. So hopefully the competition between both of them will sharpen up one of them enough that he'll be a good starter for us.

"I think the knee-jerk reaction would be to say that it is Kevin's job to lose," Whisenhunt said. "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."

Skelton did make some plays, but it would be absurd for the Cardinals to factor "quarterback wins" into the equation. Three of Skelton's five "wins" were against the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns, two teams that combined to win just six games on the season. Skelton "won" one of those games with a passer rating of 30. From a statistical standpoint, Kolb had a better completion percentage, more passing yards, fewer interceptions and a better passer rating on the season.

As evidenced by their pursuit of Peyton Manning in free agency, neither quarterback has done enough to be handed the reins and Whisenhunt is wise to let Kolb or Skelton earn the job on the field. But a factor that could trump a few overtime wins in an 8-8 season is the freight the Cardinals paid to acquire Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles after last year's lockout. Dealing cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 round pick (which the Eagles turned into defensive end Vinny Curry and cornerback Brandon Boykin) and then signing Kolb to a five-year, $62.1 million contract extension that has already paid out $20 million, including a $7 million roster bonus in March, has to at least make Kolb the quarterback the personnel department and Whisenhunt hope wins the job.

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