Can Leinart Lead the Flock?
QB Matt Leinart (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty)
QB Matt Leinart (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty)

Posted Jan 1, 2008


Just minutes after the 2007 season, coach Ken Whisenhunt took a step toward diffusing a possible quarterback controversy for 2008, saying Matt Leinart would be the starter entering this offseason.

"I don't believe in a player losing his job because of an injury, which is what happened with Matt," Whisenhunt said. "We have an offseason to evaluate that and we will go back and look at the entire season and how Matt played and Kurt played. Both of these men played good football for us at times this year."

Whisenhunt met with Matt Leinart Monday morning to tell him that he still considered him the starter.

"We talked this morning and I know I'm the guy," Leinart said Monday. "I just got to go out there and prove myself to the team, that I can be the quarterback of this team for a long time and get this team to where we want to go. And that's to get to the playoffs and to win championships."

Warner wasn't in the locker room Monday during media access but he said after the game Sunday that he hoped Whisenhunt would open the job to competition.

"I think we've said for years that Matt is the future of this organization," Warner said. "I'd like to play but whatever decision we make and whatever decision this organization makes and whatever the coaches think is in the best interest of this team, I'm on board with that."

While giving the job back to Leinart, Whisenhunt made it clear that his decision came with strings attached.

"But I also want to make it clear, not just to Matt but all of our players, it's a performance-based business, and you have to show that you've earned the right, or you can prove by your play that you can maintain that position."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RB Edgerrin James carried the ball 324 times this year, but he wants a bigger role in the offense.

"It's kind of boring on the sideline," he said. "It's probably the most I've ever been on the sideline, but it's a different system. We're just getting the feel for each other."

James said he wouldn't lobby for more work, saying coaches would figure it out.

"I'm a proven player," he said. "I've been doing something for a long time, and I'm going to continue having success doing certain things. It's just a matter of being patient."

Over the past two years, James has 661 rushing attempts, the most over a two-year period in team history.

--Larry Fitzgerald no longer is the first player off the field and out of the locker room after the game. He's heeded a warning that he needs to follow NFL policy and make himself available to reporters after games.

"Someone snitched on me," he said. "The league told me I had to be in the locker room. I didn't want a $10,000 fine for today."

--Fitzgerald finished the season with 100 receptions and 1,409 receiving yards. "I'm 24," he said. "This is the prime of my career now, and I've got to keep getting better."

--QB Kurt Warner collected $1 million worth of bonuses for his performance this year and nearly earned an additional $500,000. Warner had $500,000 bonuses for finishing in the top 10 in touchdowns and yards per pass. He would have made another $500,000 if he had finished with a pass rating of 90.0 or better. His rating was 89.8.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--WR Anquan Boldin revealed after Sunday's game that he has been playing with a hip fracture, a torn labrum and groin problems since the third week of the season. The Cardinals never revealed specifics of the injury.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald's 1,409 receiving yards equaled a career high set two years ago, as did his 10 touchdown receptions.

--RB Edgerrin James finished fourth in the NFC with 1,222 rushing yards. It's only the fifth time in club history that a runner has hit the 1,200-yard mark.

--QB Kurt Warner's 27 touchdown passes were one short of the franchise record held by Charley Johnson and Neil Lomax. Warner started in only 11 games.

--DT Darnell Dockett finished the year with nine sacks, a career high. His sack last Sunday was his first in the second half of the season.



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