TEMPE, Ariz. – Kevin Kolb lost his starting job in Philadelphia, then went to Arizona and lost it there, too.
But John Skelton's injury has given Kolb a measure of redemption. Now, Kolb gets a chance to embellish his comeback with a game against the Eagles team that traded him away.
That's as long as he remains the Cardinals' starting quarterback, and while coach Ken Whisenhunt won't say so, there's little reason to believe he won't as Skelton works his way back from the sprained right ankle he sustained in the season opener against Seattle.
Kolb came in to direct the winning touchdown drive against the Seahawks, then helped the team to an improbable upset at New England.
Next up on Sunday is Philadelphia in a matchup of teams off to 2-0 starts.
Kolb acknowledges it won't be just another game.
"Obviously, there is a little bit of added incentive," he said after practice Wednesday.
Skelton, who beat out Kolb for the job in the preseason, did not practice on Wednesday but said he might be able to do so on a limited basis later in the week. He would not rule himself out for Sunday.
"There's a chance," Skelton said. "I'm not giving up on it."
Two years ago in Philadelphia, Kolb was named the starter for the season opener, only to be knocked out of the game with a concussion. Michael Vick relieved him and has been the team's No. 1 quarterback ever since.
Kolb said that experience has made him better able to handle what has happened to him in Arizona.
"The biggest thing I took is when it's high there, when things are going good, you can't buy into it because there is a lot of hype," he said. "Everybody is patting you on the back, and when it's low, good gosh, is the sun going to come up tomorrow? Although it's not quite like that here, it is the NFL and that's the way it is nowadays. As a quarterback especially you have to be able to ride those waves and stay level-headed with every experience."
Kolb came to Arizona with the label franchise quarterback already firmly in place. The Cardinals sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick to the Eagles for him, then signed Kolb to a five-year, $63.5 million contract, with $21 million guaranteed.
The pressure was on, and the results weren't good. After a season-opening victory over Carolina, the Cardinals dropped six in a row. Kolb went down with a turf toe injury and Skelton relieved him. Skelton, a fifth-round draft pick out of Fordham in 2010, wasn't spectacular, but he had a knack for making things happen at the finish. Arizona won seven of its last nine to finish 8-8.
Kolb came back to start against Dallas, and helped the Cardinals to an overtime victory over the Cowboys. But the following week against San Francisco, he took a knee to the head on the third play and left with a concussion that wound up ending his season.
After the season, Whisenhunt declared it an open competition at quarterback and, nine days before the opener against Seattle, Skelton got the job.
Whisenhunt said Kolb has handled his difficult situation "with a lot of class."
"He's been very consistent in his approach. It certainly hasn't affected his demeanor with the football team or how he's worked," the coach said. "I don't think you could ask much more of him."
Eagles coach Andy Reid said it's not easy to switch from one offensive system to another, as Kolb has had to do.
"Listen, it's hard to move, to move from one spot to another, " Reid said Wednesday in his conference call with Arizona reporters. "You are going to go through some ups and downs. Skelton did a nice job when he got the opportunity, but it's a new system so that takes a little bit of time, I don't care who you are."
Kolb's injury kept him from facing the Eagles in Philadelphia last year. Skelton threw for a career-high 315 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions, in leading the Cardinals to a 21-17 upset.
With a good share of the home fans booing him, Kolb came on the field against Seattle in the opener with the team trailing 16-13. He overthrew Larry Fitzgerald badly on his first throw, then completed 6 of 7 as the Cardinals moved steadily down the field. He threw 2 yards to Andre Roberts for the winning touchdown with 4:59 to play.
Last week, with his team a two-touchdown underdog at New England, Kolb wasn't spectacular, but he did enough as Arizona rode its special teams play and a stout defense to the upset. Kolb again threw 2 yards to Roberts for a touchdown and, on an audible called when he saw the defense open up the middle, scored on a 5-yard quarterback sneak.
Despite the 2-0 record and Skelton's shaky status, Whisenhunt wouldn't say for sure that Kolb would start against Philadelphia.
Kolb insisted he didn't know, either.
"You'll have to ask Ken," he said.
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