Leinart Waiting in the Wings
QB Matt Leinart (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
QB Matt Leinart (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

Posted Dec 17, 2007


There seems little doubt that Matt Leinart will be the club's starting quarterback in 2008, although coaches have raved about the job Kurt Warner has done since Leinart has been injured.

Matt Leinart, who suffered a broken left collarbone in the fifth game, is beginning to throw short distances. He regularly attends quarterback meetings and games and spends time helping coaches breakdown video of opponents.

"I've tried to take this whole season, what I went through when I was playing and after I got hurt, as a positive and as motivation to be a better football player and quarterback," Leinart said.

"I've used the time to prepare in the field, leaving how to read defenses better. By no means am I close to where I want to be."

Leinart and Kurt Warner have a close relationship, especially considering their differences. Warner is in his 10th year in the league. He's married and has seven kids. Leinart is in his second year in the league. He's single and his personal life has been chronicled in tabloids and entertainment Web sites.

Leinart struggled as a starter this year as he tried to learn Ken Whisenhunt's offensive system and dealt with off-field issues. The time off has given him the opportunity to clear up things in his personal life. His relationship with the mother of his son has been repaired.

Leinart doesn't like to talk about that, but Warner said Leinart should benefit from a calmer personal life.

"Me, just personally, not speaking for Matt, I think there were times it was overwhelming," said Warner, "with off the field stuff and on the field stuff ... just the personal issues he was dealing with kind of met together and made it a struggle for him.

"I don't want to sit here and say it was definitely correlated to off-field stuff but you can't discount it either because he was dealing with a lot of stuff."

In Warner, the Cardinals have the most unique of backups. He thinks he's still good enough to be a starter in the NFL, and he's not bashful about professing that belief. But he never, ever denigrates Leinart, on or off the record.

Warner has played unevenly this season. He has looked brilliant at times, rekindling memories of his glory days in St. Louis as the league of the Rams' high-flying offense. Too often, however, he has hurt the Cardinals with turnovers, especially early in games.

But when Warner is on, he's on. Last week against the Saints, he threw for three touchdowns. He has had at least two touchdown passes in the past six games, but he's also had 10 interceptions in that time.

"I know a lot of people look at me sometimes and say, 'well, he's had some turnovers,'" Warner said. "But you have to make plays in this business. I'm trying to fight and battle and run around and make every play I can make for this football team."

Warner has been criticized for holding on to the ball too long, but two of his touchdown passes last week came after he scanned the field, then created a play.

"That's the bottom line for this football team right now, we just have to find a way to make those plays," Warner said. "We've made a lot of plays I think, and this offense has gotten so much better over the year. We just have to make more plays than we're making. And in a lot of games, it's just one. That's the frustrating part of it, especially when you've got a hand in the turnovers."

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Edgerrin James' 84 rushing yards give him 1,052 for the year. It's the second straight year in which he has gained more than 1,000, the first Cardinals runner to accomplish that since Ottis Anderson in 1983-84.

--QB Kurt Warner has 21 touchdown passes this year. That's the most by a Cardinals quarterback since 1987, the year before the team moved to Arizona.

--WR Anquan Boldin returned to action after missing last week's game with a dislocated toe. He led the team with six receptions for 83 yards. Boldin said he won't know for a day or two if he suffered any ill-effects from playing.

--SS Aaron Francisco played after missing five games with knee and calf injuries. He started at strong safety, replacing Oliver Celestin.

--DE Darnell Dockett had eight sacks in the first eight games. He hasn't had one in the last six games.



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WR Anquan Boldin (profile)
S Oliver Celestin (profile)
DT Darnell Dockett (profile)
S Aaron Francisco (profile)
QB Matt Leinart (profile)
QB Kurt Warner (profile)
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