Matt Leinart is still encouraged he will someday get to put down the clipboard and lead an NFL offense. Only this year, he's comfortable backing up former USC teammate Carson Palmer, the former top-10 pick told KSPN-AM in Los Angeles on Friday.
"I still have the mindset and desire to play," Leinart said about taking the position behind Palmer with the Oakland Raiders instead of signing where he could compete for a starting job.
"I am obviously still competitive and I hate to be on the sideline sitting and watching ... I know what I can do," he added.
Leinart was at USC for two seasons when Palmer was the starter, one a redshirt year. He signed a one-year deal with the Raiders on Monday.
"We have remained close over the years," Leinart said. "He is a guy I have always looked up to, and it's awesome 10 years later to be reunited."
Leinart, who led the Trojans to two national championships, was cut by the Houston Texans in March. He took over for injured quarterback Matt Schaub last season before suffering a fractured collarbone that ended his year in the first half of his first start.
"Coming off the injury, it was a bummer because when I got my shot I was feeling good and playing well, it was such an unlucky break," Leinart said.
Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006 to be their franchise quarterback, Leinart struggled, eventually surrendering the starting job to Kurt Warner.
Both Leinart and Palmer are Heisman Trophy winners and the only quarterbacks on the Raiders roster to have attempted an NFL pass.