Cards' Kolb hopes to return this week

Kevin Kolb is likely to start against the Bengals on Christmas Eve if he is sufficiently recovered from a concussion that kept him out of the Browns' victory Sunday.

Kevin Kolb is likely to start against the Bengals on Christmas Eve if he is sufficiently recovered from a concussion that kept him out of the Browns' victory Sunday.

But it's not the no-brainer decision it was a few weeks ago.

Backup John Skelton continues to show improvement and he is 5-1 when he either starts or takes the majority of snaps.

That record is a bit deceiving because the Cardinals' defense improved vastly in the weeks Kolb was out with a foot injury. Those two facts have nothing to do with each other; Skelton and the offense continued to struggle in that time.

But Skelton is making progress in his second season, and even if Kolb returns as the starter for the final two games, the Cardinals will profit from the experience Skelton is getting.

"He doesn't get flustered," said tight end Todd Heap. "You see his demeanor, his body language. He is just like that all the time. He hasn't played his best game yet. He has had some great moments, but he will tell you that."

Skelton is mature and resilient. Mistakes don't make him cower. If anything, he plays better after he's made one.

"We, as an offense, aren't where we need to be," he said, "whether I am at quarterback or Kevin is at quarterback. You can see when we put it all together as an offense, as a defense, as special teams, we are a hard team to stop."

The second-year pro is making better decisions and his accuracy has improved.

In the overtime victory over the Browns, he passed for 313 yards and had one touchdown and one interception. The interception bounced off a receiver's hands first.

Still, the Cardinals' offense remains problematic. Nothing comes easily for this group. The running game has been feast (Beanie Wells, 238 yards at St. Louis), or famine (145 yards in the three games since).

If Kolb is healthy, the Cardinals need to start him in the final two weeks. They gave up a lot in trade for him and signed him to a five-year contract. He was showing improvement until he suffered the concussion on the third play against the Cowboys two games ago.

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