As Arizona Cardinals head into their Week 14 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, they will do so for the ninth straight game without the services of quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Nearly every week since Kolb suffered chest and rib injuries in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals' overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills on October 14, he's had a positive outlook on the situation -- often stating that he expects to play again at some point in 2012.
But that was not the case after the team's practice on Wednesday when asked about a possible return this season.
"I can't answer that for you," Kolb said. "Again, I just got to keep pushing. I got to do it for myself, my sanity, you know just one day at a time. And do what I can, that's all I can take care of."
Kolb knew when the injury first occurred that the rehabilitation process was going to be very slow due to the nature of the injury. And he made sure to remind reporters of that after Wednesday's practice during his explanation of why his recovery has become such a tedious process.
"Whenever the cartilage broke, the ribs are laying underneath my sternum now, so that's how they're trying to heal," said Kolb. "Rather than healing where they're butted up straight against it like a normal cracked rib or cracked cartilage when they're flush with each other, mine are laying underneath there. So that's what kind of extends the process."
On Wednesday, Kolb was listed as limited in practice and has made progress each week, but he also admitted that he's been hampered a bit in his recovery.
"When I really try to push it in the weight room and really try to push the ball down the field, that's when I'm really kind of hitting that wall," said Kolb. "I think a lot of it is going back to the injury itself. It's not the way that my ribs were broken, ya' know they're not completely healed."
Kolb continues his weekly visits with team doctors, and they're constantly reviewing MRIs. The most recent set of tests still showed some swelling, and he said it seems to be more about function and less about pain tolerance as he tries to return to the field at full speed.
Another thought on Kolb's slow return to action could be the fact that the Cardinals have lost eight straight and are unlikely to make the playoffs at this point. Could the team's poor play and lack of success contribute to Kolb's slow return?
"As a player I always have a lot to prove myself, and these guys are warriors in here and I want to be a warrior for them too," said Kolb. "I'm very tight with a bunch of people in here and if I get the chance, I'm going to go out there and battle with them."
Kolb's outlook for his return for the rest of 2012 doesn't seem quite as positive and upbeat as it did immediately following the injury.
"Again, if I let it creep in…just like before, all the questions we've answered in the past about the ups and downs…if you let it creep in, it's going to take control of you."
Kolb has stated several times in the past that he relies heavily on his faith when dealing with starting quarterback issues, questions on his durability and doubts about his toughness.
This situation seems to be no different, as he continues to insist that he'll push through so he can rejoin his teammate on the field.
"As a player going through in injury, you just do everything you can do get back and whenever that time comes, you get out there."