Cardinals QB Battle: Leinart vs. Anderson

Matt Leinart (Getty)

Joseph Dougherty takes an early look at the quarterback competition and more from Flagstaff.

The competition for the Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback position may have taken a turn on Monday morning as newcomer Derek Anderson outperformed starter Matt Leinart from beginning to end in the first of the day's two practices.

After a sharp practice on Sunday, Leinart came out looking sluggish. Leinart completed his short throws underneath, but misfired downfield, overthrowing WR Onrea Jones twice. Leinart's decision making was also questionable as he failed to see safety Matt Ware on a short pass over the middle. Ware made an athletic play and came down with the interception. Leinart also heaved a wounded duck into double coverage that was nearly picked off.

As Leinart struggled, Anderson excelled. The No. 2 quarterback once again threw the best pass of the day, this time to a streaking Larry Fitzgerald. Anderson also impressed in warm-ups, showcasing his superior arm strength and accuracy. Even when things went wrong for Anderson, he somehow made it work. After having a pass deflected, Anderson caught the ball in stride and began running up field, to the enjoyment of the crowd. If Anderson continues to mask his mistakes and Leinart's errors remain obvious, the gap between backup and starter will continue to close.

While questions remain at quarterback, there are many more on special teams, especially at kick returner. Cornerback's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Justin Miller joined rookie wideouts Andre Roberts and Max Komar back fielding kicks. Fellow rookies Jorrick Calvin and Marshay Green joined them at one point. Rodgers-Cromartie and Calvin both dropped two kicks while Miller dropped one.

The rookie wideouts performed better this morning, but the catch of the day went to DT Darnell Dockett, who came jogging off the sideline to snag a sailing punt with one hand, again prompting a big reaction from the crowd.

Notes

  • Steve Breaston recovered from a poor practice on Sunday by running tight routes and catching everything that came his way on Monday morning.

  • Beanie Wells looks strong against the pads and in drills.

  • Leinart spent too much time in the pocket, even on drills without the d-line.

  • Dockett is all over the place at practice. He was fielding punts, working with the quarterbacks, playing defensive back in wideout drills, and pantomiming basketball shots in the direction of the end zone, all while leading the defense.


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