|Warner shows he still has it, even with a torn-up elbow|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 21 November 2007 15:41|
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -The man at the controls of the Arizona Cardinals' offense in the team's climb into playoff contention says he feels no self-satisfaction in showing that he still has what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL.|
``That never really was a question in my mind,'' Kurt Warner said after practice Wednesday, ``but I think I can get personal satisfaction if we just keep winning.''
Playing with a torn ligament in his left, non-throwing elbow, the 36-year-old quarterback has directed the Cardinals to consecutive victories to put the team at 5-5, one game behind first-place Seattle in the NFC West.
The former NFL and Super Bowl MVP is epitomizing the kind of tough team first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to build in the mold of the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was offensive coordinator before coming to Arizona.
And Warner is not the only one playing hurt. Anquan Boldin has an aching hip, Larry Fitzgerald a sore shoulder and Karlos Dansby a troublesome knee.
``When you get guys who are doing that, it kind of sets the bar for everyone else,'' Whisenhunt said. ``It makes it hard for guys to complain or want to come out. That's what I'm used to being around. That's the atmosphere we're trying to create.''
Warner entered the season as backup and mentor to Matt Leinart in his second NFL season. His role evolved into co-quarterback. Leinart was the starter, but Warner came in to run the ``no-huddle'' offense.
Then five games into the season, Leinart went down with a broken collarbone. One week later, Warner was knocked out of the game with the torn elbow ligament. The situation looked grim.
But Warner found a brace that, sort of, protected the elbow, and he was back in the lineup for the next game against Washington on Oct. 21.
The Cardinals lost their next three, but Warner was becoming more comfortable with Whisenhunt's philosophy, and the coach was adjusting to the quarterback, too.
``It's about trying to get our guys in the best position to be successful,'' Whisenhunt said. ``Maybe it's not things Kurt is used to doing, but he's been a real trooper, and I really think that we're starting to come together. We've made a little bit of progress the last couple of weeks.''
In the past two games - victories over Detroit and Cincinnati - Warner has completed 42 of 64 passes for 470 yards and five touchdowns with one interception.
``I've been in a lot of offenses here and in St. Louis where we were pass first, that was the design of our offense,'' Warner said. ``As opposed to what coach Whiz and we want to become here.''
That means ball control, trying to move it on the ground and using play action to move downfield.
Whisenhunt and his staff, though, have made some adjustments to accommodate Warner, too.
``You can't put a square peg in a round hole,'' Warner said, ``and I think they're starting to understand what I do well, what I like, what I feel comfortable with.''
Warner, whose team is at home against San Francisco on Sunday, is still very much a work in progress.
``There are still little things,'' he said, ``things that we're tweaking every week and learning. That's the thing. There are frustrating times, times where we talk more aggressively to one another, me and the coaches, and just try to get on the same page.''
One thing for sure, Warner's more-or-less one-armed play has made him a respected leader of the team.
``It's exciting to see someone, especially that's fighting through an injury, contribute so much to our football team,'' Whisenhunt said, ``especially in the position where he hasn't played in the last year and a half - and now he gets a chance to do that.''
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