By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - If first impressions are any indication, John Skelton may have nudged ahead in the battle for the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback position. He'll have the opportunity to further strengthen his case when his team continues its 2012 preseason with a visit to Arrowhead Stadium for a matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Skelton was considered a slight underdog to the higher-paid Kevin Kolb in the two-man race, and Kolb did draw the starting assignment for the Cardinals' encounter with the New Orleans Saints in Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. The latter failed to impress in his first crack, however, completing just 1-of-4 passes for four yards and an interception in Arizona's 17-10 loss.
Kolb's first attempt of the night was picked off by the Saints' Malcolm Jenkins, while his third series was cut short when he was taken hard to the turf by defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis midway through the first quarter. He sustained a rib contusion on the play and was removed afterward.
Skelton was more effective in his two possessions under center, hitting on 4- of-6 throws for 32 yards and engineering a 14-play, 90-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.
Kolb did return to practice this week and will be available for Friday's test, though Skelton will begin the game on this occasion. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt stressed that the team had already determined that the two would alternate starts prior to Sunday's outcome, however, and that both players would work with the first-team offense against the Chiefs.
Kansas City begins its preseason slate with some sorting out to do at quarterback as well, though its competition is at the No. 2 job behind established starter Matt Cassel. The combatants for the spot are veteran Brady Quinn, signed by the Chiefs in March, and 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi, with neither gaining a distinct advantage on the other during offseason workouts.
Quinn is expected to follow Cassel, who'll be making his first appearance since having last season cut short after nine games by a broken hand suffered in November, in Friday's pecking order.
This contest also marks the returns of three cornerstone Kansas City players who were sidelined for nearly the entire 2011 campaign with torn ACL's. Tight end Tony Moeaki did not play at all in the regular season after hurting his knee last August, while standout strong safety Eric Berry incurred his injury in the first game of the year and dynamic running back Jamaal Charles went down in a loss at Detroit the following week.
Head coach Romeo Crennel acknowledged on Monday that all three will see action against the Cardinals, though each will likely have limited snaps.
"I think it's important for them to get reps in the game to begin to find out where they are, how they feel, and how those injuries are recovering for them," Crennel said. "We'll give them some time and see how it goes."
Cassel won't have his best receiver on hand, however, with playmaker Dwayne Bowe having been a no-show at training camp after thus far failing to sign his franchise tender offer from the club. Talented youngster Jonathan Baldwin, the Chiefs' first-round choice in last year's draft, will get the nod in Bowe's place and attempts to build off a very strong showing in summer practices.
The Cardinals come into the game with a thin running back corps for the second consecutive week, with starter Beanie Wells just returning to practice on Tuesday after a slow recovery from offseason knee surgery and second-year backup Ryan Williams questionable to play as the team continues to monitor his comeback from a patella tendon tear that caused him to spend his entire rookie season on injured reserve.
Alfonso Smith and William Powell got the majority of the carries in the Hall of Fame Game, with Smith finishing with a team-best 46 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts and Powell rushing 10 times for 31 yards.
Arizona could also be without starting inside linebacker Paris Lenon, who sprained his right ankle against the Saints, and rookie offensive lineman Bobby Massie (turf toe), while tight end Jeff King (quadriceps) has yet to be activated from the physically unable to perform list. Massie is attempting to outduel journeyman Jeremy Bridges for a starter's role at right tackle.
This will be the 25th preseason meeting between the Cardinals and the Chiefs, with the teams previously facing one another annually from 1968 and 1988 when the Cardinals were then based in St. Louis. Kansas City holds a 13-10-1 overall edge in the series, but Arizona has won the last four bouts and dealt the Chiefs a 27-17 defeat in the most recent clash, which took place in 2008.
08/08 17:29:19 ET
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