Broken Wings

After competing this week for backup quarterbacks, Arizona and Carolina are ready to square off on the field.

The Cardinals and Panthers will both be trying to overcome injuries behind center as they meet Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Arizona (3-2) has been using two quarterbacks this season, starting second-year player Matt Leinart, but effectively using veteran Kurt Warner when the team switches to a no-huddle offense. However, Leinart fractured his collarbone late in the first half of Sunday's 34-31 victory over St. Louis, leaving Warner as the No. 1 QB.

The Cardinals placed Leinart on injured reserve on Tuesday, ending his season, and signed Tim Rattay to serve as Warner's backup. They also placed a call to 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde, who declined the offer, saying he didn't want to move that far away from his family in New York.

However, Testaverde did agree on Wednesday to sign with the Panthers (3-2), who have lost starting quarterback Jake Delhomme for the season. David Carr has started in place of Delhomme, who strained his right elbow in a Sept. 23 win at Atlanta, the last two games, but suffered a back injury in Carolina's 16-13 win over New Orleans on Sunday and missed practice Wednesday.

"When the Panthers called, I was excited about that," Testaverde said. "This is a much more workable situation for me."

Carr has completed just over 50 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's also been sacked five times in the three games in which he has appeared.

"I felt like my grandpa Monday. I felt like my dad today. Hopefully I'll feel like my 7-year-old son by Sunday," Carr said Wednesday.

Matt Moore, an undrafted rookie who played briefly Sunday when Carr was being treated, is the other quarterback on the roster. However, Moore's inexperience could make Testaverde a better option to start against Arizona if Carr is unable to go.

Testaverde, who won the Heisman Trophy at Miami the same year Panthers rookie receiver Dwayne Jarrett was born, ranks sixth in NFL history 6,529 pass attempts, 3,693 completions and 45,281 yards passing. He is ninth with 270 touchdown passes and tied for 10th with 30 300-yard passing games.

Carolina coach John Fox said he thought Testaverde would be ready to make the start if called upon.

"Both mentally and physically," Fox said. "He's a guy we were fortunate enough to find at this point in the season."

Yet the Cardinals appear to be in better shape at quarterback, as Warner has produced better numbers than Leinart. Warner has completed 62.3 percent of his passes (43-of-69) for 580 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. Leinart completed 54 percent (60-of-112) for 647 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions.

"This is what you want to do every time you enter a season," Warner said. "Every time you come back to play, you want to be in there playing every snap. So I'm excited about that part of it, relatively speaking. Obviously, I'm disappointed for Matt. You never want to get this position and take over a job due to an injury."

Warner was 14-of-28 passing for 190 yards and a touchdown and an interception in Sunday's win over the Rams - a team he led to two Super Bowls and one title. He also rushed one yard for a score as the Cardinals moved into a tie with Seattle for the NFC West lead.

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 136 yards and leads the NFC with 448 receiving yards. Fitzgerald has posted consecutive 100-yard games, helping to make up for the absence of Anquan Boldin, who has missed the last two games with a hip injury and did not practice on Wednesday.

The Cardinals, who have reached the postseason just once in 19 years since moving from St. Louis, are off to their best start since 2002.

"It means a lot," defensive end Darnell Dockett said of being atop the NFC West. "It means we are playing great football. We will enjoy it - but at the same time, we have to get ready for Carolina."

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Arizona -4.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 44 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Arizona -4.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Carolina, meanwhile, improved to 3-0 on the road when John Kasay kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired Sunday in New Orleans. Carr connected with star receiver Steve Smith for a game-tying, 17-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, then hit Smith again to set up Kasay's game-winner. Smith is seventh in the NFC with 360 receiving yards.

The team rallied behind the aching Carr, who played with considerable pain after returning for the second half following a bone-jarring hit from Will Smith that hurt his back. The Panthers were outgained 341-243, had just 12 first downs to the Saints' 23, and held the ball nearly 10 fewer minutes, but still managed to earn the win.

The mood was certainly different a week after an embarrassing 20-7 loss at home against Tampa Bay the previous week that had defensive tackle Kris Jenkins accusing his teammates of having no heart.

"We're a family, man," Jenkins said. "And that's why I had to say what I said. We need to get that winning feeling around here again and that's what we did."

The Panthers have won each of their last three meetings with the Cardinals and lead the all-time series between the teams 4-2. Carolina has won both of the matchups in Arizona.

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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