2nd String QB Controversy?

Navarre is Green's choice for #2

Matt Leinart is the Cardinals' first round pick, and though he has yet to sign and report to camp, he's already finding himself fighting for the second string QB job. Is Denis Green really serious when he says he prefers John Navarre? PLUS: Injury reports; Cards (and fans) get weekends off at camp; Three rookies with a shot at the starting lineup.

INSIDE SLANT
Dennis Green loves the misdirection play.
Not necessarily the one on the field, but the mind games he plays with the media.
He says Matt Leinart is going to spend the year learning the game, the league and the offense from Kurt Warner, and most believe him. Warner, who signed a new contract in January, is counting on it. He doesn't want a repeat of the Eli Manning situation that Warner faced with on the New York Giants two years ago. The rookie quarterback Manning was to spend the year learning from Warner, but by mid-season Warner was on the bench and Manning was starting.
Then Green says he loves John Navarre, who has been third string for two years, and that Navarre is very much in the hunt to be No. 2 to Warner ahead of Leinart, and very few believe him.
"I believe first-year players, for the most part, have to watch and learn," Green said. "Kurt still has the ability to lead us to the playoffs, particularly with a running game to go along with it.
"Matt is going to be a very good player. But I'm still very high on, and I haven't changed one bit, on the future of John Navarre. He's got everything you need to be a big-time player ... You know what? People don't believe a lot of things I say."
Leinart, the 10th pick overall in the draft, first has to come to terms. On the eve of the Cardinals' first workout, he remained unsigned.
The parameters quickly are falling into place for a deal, though, and negotiations have been ongoing for more than a week.
The Cardinals, who have signed all of their other rookies, have roughly $1.5 million left in their rookie pool. Overall, they remain about $11 million under the salary cap.
Additionally, two other highly drafted quarterbacks -- Vince Young, who went a few notches ahead of Leinart, and Jay Cutler, who went directly behind Leinart at the No. 11 position -- have signed their contracts.
Cutler got about $48 million over six years, including roughly $11 million in guaranteed money. Young was drafted third overall -- in the spot where many draft observers anticipated Leinart might go -- and signed for five years and $58 million, a whopping $25 million of it guaranteed.
The 10th player chosen in the 2005 draft, Lions receiver Mike Williams, got a $13.5 million, five-year contract. Of that, $9.5 million was guaranteed.
Although no deal was in place, Leinart threw passes at the Cardinals' practice facility three days before the opening of camp.
CAMP CALENDAR: The Cardinals report to training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Sunday, July 30, and have their first workout the morning of Monday, July 31. Camp ends on Aug. 17.
Among the key changes are no intra-squad scrimmage and no weekend practices -- Saturdays and Sundays off, an attempt to make the Monday through Friday regimen more intense and give players' bodies time to heal. Widespread injuries were a problem last season.
The team works out on the fields just east of the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome at NAU and practices are open to the public at no charge. If it rains -- and afternoon thunderstorms are common in Flagstaff in August -- they move workouts inside.

NOTES, QUOTES
--After years of losing, horrible relations with players and unwarranted arrogance that bore abysmal public relations, it appeared the Cardinals were about to turn it around.
They've added exciting, high-quality young players to the roster, they're moving into a state-of-the-art stadium that is sold out for the season and no doubt will be the envy of all of pro sports and they finally have a head coach with a proven track record of winning in the playoffs.
And now, just as excitement is at an all-time high, the Cardinals once again stick it to the fans.
After they charged $200 to fans to get on the waiting list for season tickets (it is non-refundable but is applied to the price of the tickets when the holder's turn comes), they're now essentially shutting down training camp to that excited fan base.
The team has changed its training-camp format this year and eliminated all weekend workouts as well as the annual intra-squad scrimmage. Monday-Friday practices are open to those who can get to them.
But weekend workouts had been popular among fans from Phoenix -- about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Flagstaff -- who work and can't make it to practices during the week.
--Quarterback Matt Leinart, chosen 10th overall in the first round, and who recently bought a $2.4 million house in Ahwatukee, a 10-miunte drive from the team's training facility, worked out at the team's facility late last week while his representatives began negotiations on his contract.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The culture has changed. It's about changing the culture and creating an atmosphere. Can you win while you're doing that? I've always said yes, but it didn't happen." -- Coach Dennis Green, on entering training camp with renewed optimism about a franchise that has had one winning season since moving to Arizona in 1988, including 6 and 5 wins in Green's first two seasons.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--TE Leonard Pope, a third-round draft pick, signed a three-year contract for $1.6 million with a $575,000 signing bonus. With his size, athleticism, hands and blocking, Pope is expected to be a strong challenger to win the starting spot as a rookie.
--DT Gabe Watson, a fourth-round pick, signed a three-year contract for $1.4 million with a $345,000 signing bonus. Watson is expected to challenge free-agent Kendrick Clancy to start at nose tackle.
--SLB Karlos Dansby, who had surgery in June on his left thumb to repair a torn ligament, has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. He is coming off a season with three interceptions (returned two for touchdowns) and four sacks. He was among only five players in the league to have at least three sacks and three interceptions last year.
--MLB Gerald Hayes (knee), the projected starter last preseason before a knee injury wiped out his year, has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. His successful return might allow the team to move veteran James Darling to weak-side linebacker to address a weakness.
--CB Antrel Rolle (knee) has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. His rookie year was all but wiped out by the injury and the team still doesn't know exactly what it has in the 2005 first-round pick. Nevertheless, Rolle is a projected starter.
--LG Reggie Wells (ankle) has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. Wells might be moved to center to compete with Alex Stepanovich, which in turn would allow rookie second-round pick Deuce Lutui to step in at LG.
--C Alex Stepanovich (shoulder) has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. He faces a battle for his job following a season truncated by injuries. LG Reggie Wells might move to center to push Stepanovich as the team attempts to upgrade the line after it posted the league's worst rushing statistics last season. But Stepanovich was a 16-game starter as a rookie in 2004 and was effective while playing injury-free.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Darnell Dockett vs. Kenny King for starting DT -- King was the projected starter two years ago before a wrist surgery, followed by another in 2005, sidelined him for two seasons. When King unexpectedly went down, Dockett was forced into a starting role as a rookie in 2004. Dockett since has bulked up and become a playmaker as a two-year starter. These players are too good to sit. Whichever does not win the starting job might swing to end. Both have the ability.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Alex Stepanovich vs. Reggie Wells for Starting C -- It is not yet confirmed that Wells will move from LG, where he is the two-year starter, but it is a strong possibility. Stepanovich was strong as a rookie in 2004 but shaky when injuries slowed him last season.
--Kendrick Clancy vs. Gabe Watson for starting NG -- There will be a new face in the lineup after Russell Davis went to Seattle in free agency. Clancy, a free agent, has experience. Watson, a fourth-round pick, is bigger and stronger but also raw. Watson also has to get past his reputation for taking plays off at Michigan.
--Eric Green vs. Robert Macklin at CB -- Green was forced to play before he was ready as a rookie last year but now should benefit or the experience. Griffith is a tough, yet smallish veteran, who will cling to the job like a junk-yard dog -- the same way he plays the game.
ROOKIE REPORT: All but QB Mat Leinart, chosen 10th in the first round, were signed on the eve of camp. Leinart is expected to be a backup to Kurt Warner while learning the pro game this season.
--G Deuce Lutui, a second-round pick, should be a strong challenger to step in and start.
--TE Leonard Pope, a third-round pick, is big (6-8, 265), athletic, can catch and block. He will be a strong challenger to Eric Edwards and Adam Berge, the tag-team starters last year.
--NT Gabe Watson, a fourth-round pick, has the physical tools to challenge Kendrick Clancy for the starting job. The key will be Watson's mind-set.
INJURY REPORT: SLB Karlos Dansby, who had surgery in June on his left thumb to repair a torn ligament, has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. He is coming off a season with three interceptions (returned two for touchdowns) and four sacks. He was among only five players in the league to have at least three sacks and three picks last year.
--MLB Gerald Hayes (knee), the projected starter last preseason before a knee injury wiped out his year, has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. His successful return might allow the team to move veteran James Darling to weak-side linebacker to address a weakness.
--CB Antrel Rolle (knee) has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. His rookie year was all but wiped out by the injury and the team still doesn't know exactly what it has in the 2005 first-round pick. Nevertheless Rolle is a projected starter.
--LG Reggie Wells (ankle) has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. Wells might be moved to C to compete with Alex Stepanovich, which in turn would allow rookie second-round pick Deuce Lutui to step in at LG.
--C Alex Stepanovich (shoulder) has been cleared to start practice when training camp opens on Monday. He faces a battle for his job following a season truncated by injuries. LG Reggie Wells might move to C to push Stepanovich as the team attempts to upgrade the line after it posted the league's worst rushing statistics last season. But Stepanovich was a 16-game starter as a rookie in 2004 and was effective while playing injury-free.

CardinalFootballTalk.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


So here we are, first day of camp, and things look bright for the Cardinals. Edgerrin James is here…

Forums


2 Fans online
    Join The Conversation

    Tweets