|Warner says he's proven he deserves a shot at starting next year|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 December 2007 18:21|
``Hopefully what I've shown is I can still play, and I can still start, and I can still be very effective in this league,'' he said after practice Wednesday.
Warner, who has one year left on his contract with Arizona, said he asks only for a situation where ``the best player plays.''
``I hope it's that way through the rest of my career, wherever that is no matter how long that is,'' he said, ``that I get a chance to compete every year.''
Matt Leinart, the second-year quarterback who went down with a season-ending broken collar bone the fifth game of the season, isn't surprised at Warner's attitude.
``He's a competitive guy,'' Leinart said. ``I've got to look at it as a situation where it's my team and I've got to come out and play well and be the guy for this team. But I would not expect anything less of Kurt, and he wouldn't expect anything less of me.''
Warner has thrown for 21 touchdowns, the most by a Cardinal since Neil Lomax threw 24 in 1987.
Warner has completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,748 yards. But he's been intercepted 15 times, and his fumbles while being sacked have been costly.
Last week, Warner's lost fumble set up a New Orleans touchdown in a 31-24 Saints' victory that eliminated Arizona from playoff contention. On the sidelines afterward, Warner got into a heated discussion with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Warner later chalked it up to routine sideline tension, but turnovers have tarnished the 36-year-old quarterback's season and helped lead to Arizona's 6-8 record going into Sunday's home game against Atlanta. His lost fumble in his own end zone resulted in a 37-31 home loss to San Francisco on Nov. 25.
``I feel good with a lot of things that I've done,'' he said. ``There are always things that I wish I could change, mistakes that I've made at critical points in certain games. Those are the things I wish I could take back. If I didn't have a few of those, I'd feel really good with the way I've performed this year.''
Warner's season is even more impressive because he's played the last eight games with a torn ligament in his left (non-throwing) elbow. He's also playing with sore ribs.
``Kurt's really fought through some injuries, but he's been productive for us,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ``I know he's turned the ball over a few times because he's trying to make plays, but as far as keeping us in games, coming back in some things, doing some things for us, he's done a good job with that.''
Warner, as people might forget, was one of the NFL's great success stories, fighting his way up from the Arena Football League and NFL Europe to win the league MVP award in 1999 and 2001. He also was the MVP in leading St. Louis to a Super Bowl triumph in 2000.
But after an injury-plagued 2002 season, he lost the Rams' starting job in 2003. A year later with the New York Giants, he was benched in favor of Eli Manning. Then he came to Arizona in 2004, and found himself on the sidelines again watching rookie Matt Leinart two years later.
``Just to be honest, I think a lot of people would have questioned what I still had left,'' Warner said. ``I've heard those questions for four or five years now.''
Whisenhunt took over from fired coach Dennis Green and promptly made Leinart the starter again, but Warner came off the bench when the Cardinals went to a ``no-huddle'' offense. That all changed when Leinart was hurt. The team was unquestionably Warner's.
Whisenhunt added more pass to what was supposed to be a run-oriented offense, and the Cardinals moved the ball against everyone. But penalties and turnovers were Arizona's undoing.
Warner is unabashedly pleased to prove himself at this later stage of his career, but he knows the statistics don't mean much.
``The bottom line is us winning football games,'' he said, ``and I haven't done a good enough job to help us do that.''