After only five practices, Kevin Kolb will lead the Arizona Cardinals into their preseason opener Thursday night at Oakland.
Kolb says he hopes coach Ken Whisenhunt gives him as much playing time as possible as he works to learn a new system and develop chemistry with his teammates.
“Obviously Ken’s been around a lot longer than I have and he makes those calls,” Kolb said before Tuesday’s final pre-game practice, “but as much time as he’ll give us, that’s how much time we need because there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Whisenhunt said he probably will stay with his new quarterback a bit longer than he would under normal circumstances in a preseason opener.
“I just would just like to see him continue to be comfortable with calling and operating the offense,” the coach said. “I’ve seen some good strides as far as handling it in the huddle but this is a whole new deal, now, going out on the field, working the communicator, getting in and out of the huddle, get the plays lined up. I’m sure there’s going to be some confusion out there, not necessarily his but other people on the team. You just never know.”
Forget game planning for the Raiders. With such a limited time to prepare, Kolb will do well to just oversee the basic offense.
“I guess the biggest thing that I want to see is just how he handles everything,” Whisenhunt said. “I’m not too concerned about statistically what he does or a lot of those things. You want to see him do good things, but I think really you obviously want to see how he handles the situation. It will give us a better feel of what we can do, what we can put in, how we can adjust things going forward. That’s what this is all about.”
After practice, star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he and others need to help Kolb’s fast-track learning process.
“We have to go out there and instill the confidence in Kevin that we’re going to be what we need to be for him,” Fitzgerald said. “We need to make his job easier. It’s not all about him coming in here and making all those throws. We need to make plays for him. That’s going to make him want to go out there and do better and give him more confidence to get us the football. That’s our job is to go out there and make it as easy as possible.”
Kolb, obtained in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, could not practice until last Thursday after he signed a five-year, $63 million contract with $21 million guaranteed. He said he’s a perfectionist and it’s been frustrating when he struggles sometimes with the terminology of the Cardinals offense.
“It is hard because I put a lot of pressure on myself and I want to be perfect from the word go,” he said. “It frustrates me beyond belief whenever I have a tough time spitting out a play. If I stutter through a long worded play, that frustrates me because that’s not my style. But I also understand I’m going into day five here so I have to calm myself down. But I still want to chase that perfection every day.”
Kolb is coming off a mixed performance in the Cardinals’ red and white scrimmage, when he made some big plays, but threw three interceptions.
Asked what he learned from that day, he said, “Don’t force things.”
“We did some great things and that happens to me sometimes,” he said, “You know, I get caught up in trying to make too many plays.”
Kolb said the important thing is not to repeat mistakes.
‘I know I’m going to make some mistakes. I just want to learn from them,” he said. “Just like the scrimmage on Saturday, just like the practice yesterday. All those are sticking in my head and I’ll remember them and hopefully I won’t make those mistakes again. Obviously we don’t want to make a bunch of them. I don’t know how much playing time we’re going to get but every down, every snap, I’ll make sure I’m learning from that experience and putting them in my memory bank for later on.”
The Cardinals had Sunday off, but while some of his teammates chose to return to Phoenix, Kolb stayed at camp.
“I said I needed to hang out here and make sure I was catching up on the fast paced first couple of days there,” he said. “I feel good, though, even the next practice yesterday, just spitting it out felt a lot better. And every day’s a little bit better.”