|Leinart brushes aside critics, says Arizona is his team|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 26 September 2007 15:49|
He insists he understands the two-quarterback system Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt is using and will work hard to show he deserves to stay in his starting role.
``I know this is my team,'' Leinart said after practice Wednesday. ``I'm the quarterback of this team. I'm competitive. I'm not going to just throw in the towel and give in to what everyone's saying.''
Leinart was pulled from the game and watched from the sidelines last Sunday in Baltimore while backup Kurt Warner, in a no-huddle offense, threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. The Cardinals rallied from a 23-6 deficit to tie it at 23-23 before a last-second field goal gave the Ravens the victory.
Afterward, Whisenhunt said Leinart would start but the no-huddle system would remain a part of the offense, with Warner at the controls. That led to widespread speculation Leinart, in his second NFL season, was in danger of being replaced altogether.
Whisenhunt said that's not the case, but Leinart understands he can take nothing for granted.
``It's a job and we're all competitive,'' Leinart said. ``If anything, I'm pushed to be a better player. I'm pushed to be the player that I know I can be, that I know I will be one day.''
Whisenhunt has been relentless in his approach to making Leinart work. That didn't surprise Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, who played three seasons with Whisenhunt as his offensive coordinator.
``I know how Matt feels,'' the Steelers quarterback said in a conference call.
It's a situation that's unprecedented for the former Heisman Trophy winner Leinart.
``He's tough, but he's pushed me to be a better player,'' Leinart said. ``I've never been coached this hard. ... Sometimes you need a little kick in the butt to get going. You need that motivation. I know that he's looking out for me. We plan on being here a long time together and winning a lot of championships.''
Warner said he believes Leinart is ``doing fine.''
``I think the initial frustration of what happened on Sunday was disappointing and wearing on him a little bit,'' Warner said, ``but I think as he's come to grips with the situation and understands what the full meaning behind this thing was - and stopped listening to all the garbage that was going on out there - he's settled back in and preparing to have a great game this weekend.''
Whisenhunt said he liked what he's seen of Leinart this week.
``In my short experience with Matt, when he's been challenged, he's responded,'' Whisenhunt said. ``I heard him say something about adversity. To me, adversity reveals character. He's shown that. He's shown that he's going to respond.''