QB issues in 'Zona
If anything, the last two weeks have stressed upon the Arizona Cardinals the importance of having a contingency plan.
With Matt Leinart out and Kurt Warner's status uncertain, the Cardinals may turn the offense over to recently signed Tim Rattay to start against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
It was originally believed Warner would sit out at least this game due to a torn ligament in his left elbow, but he said Wednesday he hopes to play Sunday. Warner was limited in practice, but coach Ken Whisenhunt did not rule him out.
"Would I love to play on Sunday? Sure I would," Warner said. "I'm going to go forward with the idea that I can. But we've just got to weigh all the options and make sure that it's something that I can do."
Warner got his first start of the season last Sunday, but injured the elbow early in Arizona's 25-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He had split time in the previous three games with Leinart, who was lost for the season to a broken collarbone suffered a week earlier in a win over the St. Louis Rams.
For the second straight week, the Cardinals (3-3) have been forced to sign a backup quarterback. First it was Rattay, and on Tuesday it was Tim Hasselbeck.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Washington -9 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday's game, the over/under has been set at 35.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington -9 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Whisenhunt denied he was being vague with his decision on who would start in an effort to keep the Redskins off-balance.
"Maybe we'll go with a three-quarterback platoon this week and see if we can get that one to work," Whisenhunt said with a chuckle. "It's not so much gamesmanship. We've got to find the guy that we feel comfortable with doing what we can do.
"We're going to see how much Kurt can do, see if there's something that he can do for us in the game. And after that, we've got to make a decision between the two Tims."
Though it seems likely Rattay will start if Warner can't go, Hasselbeck could be only one injury away from attempting his first pass in an NFL game in four years.
Hasselbeck, who had been working radio and television, was released by the New York Giants on Sept. 1 after appearing in three games in 2005. He did not attempt a pass in any of those contests, and hasn't done so since 2003 with Washington.
Rattay is 5-13 as a starter, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' final two games last season as he went 1-1 while throwing for 397 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He entered last week's game in the first quarter after Warner was injured, finishing 12-of-24 for 159 yards with three interceptions and two fumbles, but he recovered both.
Whisenhunt said after the game the Cardinals had to scale back their playbook when Rattay took over since he had only three practices to grasp the offense. Arizona spent this week further adjusting its plans and now may benefit from Rattay's six years of experience with the 49ers' West Coast offense.
"I'm going to just try to keep learning this offense as fast as I can," said Rattay, who spent his first six NFL seasons with San Francisco.
Last Sunday's loss prevented the Cardinals from recording their first three-game winning streak since 2002. Arizona remains tied for first place with Seattle in a struggling NFC West division despite all the injury issues, including one to two-time Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin.
Boldin, who has 22 receptions for 286 yards and three touchdowns in three games this year, hopes to be back on Sunday after missing the last three games with a sore hip. Even if Boldin is limited, Arizona still has another terrific target in Larry Fitzgerald, who leads the NFC with 40 receptions and 545 receiving yards.
"If Kurt doesn't go, it just puts more emphasis on us to make plays," Boldin said.
The Cardinals will need all the help they can get against the fifth-ranked pass defense in the league and the third-ranked overall defense. Washington (3-2) is allowing 179.4 passing yards per game and held Brett Favre to a season-low 188 yards last Sunday.
"We have such high standards defensively," linebacker London Fletcher told the Redskins' official Web site. "We don't want to allow opponents to get anything."
Despite the solid play of the defense last weekend, the Redskins would lose to the Packers 17-14. Santana Moss had a terrible game, dropping two passes and setting up Green Bay's go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter on a fumble. Moss pulled himself from the game, bothered by a cramping hamstring.
Despite the dismal performance, coach Joe Gibbs expects Moss, who has yet to score a touchdown this season, to bounce back.
"I have the absolute most confidence in that guy," he said.
The Redskins signed offensive tackles Kevin Sampson and Calvin Armstrong to the practice squad Tuesday in case Todd Wade (strained right groin) or Stephon Heyer (strained left hamstring) are unable to play. Washington nearly ran out of offensive linemen last week after losing three to injuries. Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas were already sidelined and the team usually only has seven linemen active on game day.
"We need to look at everything there," Gibbs said. "What I'm praying is that several of them are going to be able to bounce back and play."
Washington has won five straight over Arizona and is 27-6 against the Cardinals at home. This is Arizona's first visit to Washington D.C. since 2002 and the first time the teams have played since the Redskins won 17-13 in 2005.
The Cardinals are looking for their first win in the nation's capital since 1998.
By: AP Staff Writers - Email Us
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