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Still a Cardinal: Leinart's status hasn't changed, coach says

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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When the Arizona Cardinals announced a Wednesday afternoon news conference and didn't reveal the topic to be discussed, coach Ken Whisenhunt knew what people would assume: Quarterback Matt Leinart had been cut or traded.

Not only was there a different announcement -- the Cardinals talked about Darnell Dockett's new deal -- but Whisenhunt said "nothing has changed" regarding Leinart's status, according to the team's official Web site.

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"It's all speculation by a number of people," said Whisenhunt, who admitted he "was a little tickled" about all the interest in the news conference.

Whisenhunt's comments came as several media outlets reported the Cardinals are shopping Leinart, who has expressed frustration over apparently losing the starting quarterback job to Derek Anderson. FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer, who appears on NFL Network, said Tuesday that the Cardinals have reached out to teams around the NFL to gauge trade interest in Leinart, a former first-round draft pick.

Whisenhunt said Tuesday that he will use the same playing order as he did in last Saturday's 14-9 win at Chicago, meaning Leinart will replace Anderson, who will start, at some point in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Washington Redskins.

"It worked for us," the coach said, "so we'll see if it continues to work that way."

Whisenhunt said neither quarterback will have as much playing time as they did against the Bears, "but both guys will get the opportunity."

Whisenhunt's decision came following a Monday afternoon meeting with Leinart after the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner told reporters that he had outplayed Anderson in training camp and preseason and that his problem with his coach "probably goes beyond football."

Whisenhunt called it "a good talk."

"We obviously touched base on where everything was, which I've always said I wanted," he said, "If players have an issue or a problem, (they need) to come see me. We had communicated before about where we were, and, obviously, we needed to talk a little bit more, but it was a good talk."

Leinart didn't make himself available to reporters after the Cardinals worked out Tuesday for the first time at Arizona State University's indoor practice facility.

Unless the Cardinals acquire another quarterback, the team could be left with the unlikely prospect of having two rookies -- John Skelton and Max Hall -- back up Anderson.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves didn't return a message left on his cell phone Tuesday.

Whisenhunt said he has been consistent in the way he communicates with players since he took over as head coach in 2007.

"I'm comfortable with the way we've done that," he said. "Obviously, there must have been some breakdown because he didn't hear what he wanted, but hopefully we got that cleared up yesterday."

He said he has nothing personal against Leinart.

"I've always liked Matt," Whisenhunt said. "I think Matt is a tremendous person, and he's done a lot for this city and this community, but it's my job as the head coach of this team to pick the best players for our squad. I didn't think, as the preseason progressed, that we were as efficient as we needed to be."

Whisenhunt said the Cardinals played better last week.

"I don't know if that was a function of making the changes or whether that was a function of our guys waking up a little bit," he said. "We get an opportunity to see this week."

Whisenhunt hasn't announced the starting quarterback for the regular-season opener Sept. 12 at St. Louis, but Anderson appears to be the front-runner, considering he's making the last two starts.

Leinart said Monday that he didn't know what else he "could possibly do" to earn the job.

"It probably goes beyond football, beyond the field actually," he said. "For me, I am not making excuses. I am not going to complain. For me, I just really want an explanation, and I haven't been given one."

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Whisenhunt wasn't happy that Leinart had expressed his feelings to the media.

"Would I have rather he come to me and talked to me? Yes, to be perfectly honest, I would," Whisenhunt said. "But, you know, that's what sometimes happens in this business. Matt and I had an opportunity to talk yesterday. He definitely had some feelings that he needed to get out, and he came up and saw me, and that was important."

Anderson, signed as a free agent after the Cleveland Browns released him, has seen far more playing time than Leinart in the preseason. The former Oregon State quarterback has completed 31 of 53 passes (59 percent) for 287 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions.

Leinart has completed 83 percent (19 of 23), most of them short-range throws, for 161 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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