TEMPE, Ariz. – When last seen by most of the country, Kevin Kolb was probably on his backside after absorbing one of a multitude of hits in the Arizona offense's worst performance of the season.
Kolb pronounced himself fine Wednesday, fully recovered from the punishment he endured in that 17-3 Thursday night loss at St. Louis, Arizona's first defeat of the season. The Cardinals scored the fewest points in a game since they lost 13-3 to the New York Jets in 2004, Dennis Green's first season coaching the Arizona
It helps that Kolb had a couple of extra days to shake off the effects of that physical drubbing the Rams put on the Arizona offense.
"It is nice. It was nice for everybody, not just myself," Kolb said after practice. "We've got a lot of little of dings, as does every team in the NFL, but as hard it was to play in that turnaround Thursday night, it is nice to have a few days off to relax and get your body back right."
An already sputtering offense took a hit when running back Ryan Williams injured his left shoulder, putting him out for the rest of the season. The team already is without running back Beanie Wells for at least five games with a turf toe.
Their absence from already was an anemic ground game and the presence of a porous offensive line leave Kolb in a precarious spot.
Then there is the improving health of John Skelton, who beat out Kolb for the starting job this year. Skelton went down with a sprained right ankle late in the game and Kolb came on to direct the winning drive in the season opener over Seattle.
Skelton said he's about 90 percent healthy and could play if circumstances warranted it this weekend.
Kolb threw 50 passes against the Rams, and was slammed down on most, if not all, of them. Fifty passes are too many, coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
"That's going to give you issues. I don't want to do that," Whisenhunt said. "I'd like to sit here and say if we have to do it, we'll do it, but I don't want to do it."
Kolb, a football gunslinger by nature, says he will throw 50 again, if necessary.
"You don't want to, especially in this league" Kolb said, "but you do what you have to do. We've seen teams win a lot of ways in this league, so we'll do whatever it takes.'
The Cardinals' offense could get some reinforcement this week. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, out for two weeks with a hip injury, "participated fully" in practice, Whisenhunt said, although he was listed as limited in the injury report.
Tight ends Todd Heap and Jim Drey also were limited. Their return would double the number of tight ends available to help with the blocking, especially on the edge where tackles D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie have struggled so much.
Keeping tight ends in to help protect Arizona's quarterback is an option, although like anything else, a team can't rely on it too much. The same, Kolb said, goes for a three-step drop.
The sack issues, Kolb said, are the responsibility of the entire team.
"Obviously, the line, they get blamed for it," he said. "It's on me. It's on communication from the very beginning, which has been good most of the time, from backs, the tight ends. It's a team effort, and unfortunately the offensive line, they take the brunt of that whenever we have games like that."
Whisenhunt said improvement on the line can come with scheming the opposition and get better play from the linemen.
"A little bit of both," he said. "I think that there is only so much you can do when you're down and you're trying to catch up. You have to spread it out and throw it, and that's where we've given up some of those sacks.
"There's no question we've got to do a better job in our protection schemes and we've got to do a better job in our techniques. That's what we've been working on and we worked on it some today."
Despite all those issues, the Cardinals are, after all, 4-1 and tied with San Francisco for first in the greatly improved NFC West. They haven't been 5-1 in 36 years.
Kolb knows that the offense has to get it going against a Buffalo team that has been outscored 90-17 in the last six quarters.
The Cardinals didn't add a running back after Williams went down, choosing to get by with what they have — the trio of Stephens-Howling, William Powell and Alfonso Smith.
The versatile but small Stephens-Howling stepped out of his situational duties to become the No. 1 back when Wells was sidelined in last season's finale against Seattle. He gained 93 yards in 23 carries, both career highs, in Arizona's 23-20 overtime victory.
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