|Leinart still No. 1, but Warner contending|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 02 June 2008 11:40|
Kurt Warner has been taking some snaps with the first-string offense in voluntary workouts.
Confusing? Coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn't think so.
``Same thing I said back at the end of the season: Matt's our starter,'' Whisenhunt said after Monday's practice. ``Kurt's going to be there pushing him.''
In the NFL, it's never too early for a quarterback controversy. The Leinart vs. Warner debate has simmered since the Cardinals drafted Leinart out of USC with the 10th overall pick in 2006, and there's no reason to believe that will change when the club goes to the tall pines of Flagstaff for training camp next month.
Whisenhunt selected Leinart as his starter as soon as last season ended. But Warner, a two-time NFL MVP, said he expects to have a chance to win the job.
``That's basically what has been shared with me, that the best player's going to play, and that's how I look at it, and I believe everybody else is looking at it the same way,'' Warner said. ``I can only go on what I know and what I've been told. And with that, I'm going on the fact that I'm competing and I'm going to make every rep count and try to prove to these guys that I'm the best guy for the job.''
Leinart and Warner both took snaps with the starters on Monday, when the Cardinals worked out on a sunny, 90-degree morning. But Leinart said he hasn't been too concerned about sharing practice time with Warner.
``I'm not really worried about who's getting the reps, when and where,'' Leinart said. ``We did the same thing last year. I'm just really focusing on getting better as a quarterback and helping this team win.''
Perhaps it's fitting that Leinart and Warner are splitting time with the first string, because that's what they've been doing the past two seasons.
Leinart replaced Warner as the starter five weeks into the 2006 season, but Warner started the last game after Leinart hurt his shoulder.
Last year, Warner took over in October, after Leinart went on injured reserve with a fractured collarbone.
In his first two NFL seasons, Leinart has completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,134 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's thrown 16 interceptions.
During the same span, Warner has completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,794 yards and 33 touchdowns. He's thrown 22 interceptions.
It's possible that Whisenhunt and his staff have been giving Warner first-team snaps in an effort to make sure Leinart doesn't take the starting job for granted.
The coaches say Leinart has improved his reads on pass plays, a result of extended film study.
``Even for today, there was a play in there where he knew where he wanted to go with the ball, and he executed it and he looked confident,'' Whisenhunt said. ``You can tell that he's more confident, and I think a lot of that goes back to understanding the offense.''
Warner, an accurate thrower, has a firm grasp of the Cardinals' attack. And he has been making the most of the opportunity to practice with the first string.
``It's going to be a tough job for Matt to keep because Kurt played at a high level for us last year, and he's been doing a lot of work in the offseason and he's looked sharp in these drills,'' Whisenhunt said. ``It's not just quarterback. It's any position on our team. That's the way you'd like to have it.''