Young, Leinart tread different paths since 2006 BCS showdown

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- At least this time, Matt Leinart knows he'll be starting for Arizona against Vince Young's Tennessee Titans.

The NFL script hasn't gone the way many expected for either of the top two quarterbacks drafted in 2006. Leinart found himself backing up Kurt Warner since 2008 and now has the starting job back with the veteran's retirement.

Young was on the bench himself last year until the Titans' 0-6 start pushed him back onto the field.

The two former collegiate superstars will go against each other again Monday night, briefly, when the Cardinals visit Tennessee.

"They're a good football team and they play well in the preseason. They show a lot of looks on defense," Leinart said. "It's going to be a challenge for us. ... Tennessee, they'll throw 10 or 15 different coverages in the preseason on you. It's going to be good for us. It's going to be good for me to try to decipher the defense and get the ball out to the right guy.

Leinart has 17 starts with 29 career games and a 7-10 record. Those numbers pale compared to Young who is 26-13 in his career with two Pro Bowl appearances.

Young has a better passer rating and has thrown for more yards than Leinart (6,843 to 3,893). Both have more career interceptions than touchdowns, though Young (32-39) has nearly twice more of each (14-20).

Leinart faced Young on Nov. 29 in the Cardinals' first trip to the Titans' LP Field.

Leinart started only because Kurt Warner, now retired, was a late scratch with concussion symptoms. Now the 10th overall pick in 2006 out of Southern California is trying to earn the starter's job again.

Young, the third overall pick in 2006 out of Texas, got the better of Leinart that day. He drove the Titans 99-yards over the final 2:37 to pull out a 20-17 win over the guy he beat back in the BCS national championship in 2006.

Leinart admitted feeling a bit of deja vu watching Young beat him with another late drive. This game obviously is different.

"The mindset this year is a lot different. ... I've never really thought about last year. It has no bearing on this game. I just want to go out there and start fast," Leinart said.

This preseason, the Cardinals (1-0) got off to a slower start than Leinart would have liked. They didn't score against Houston until the backups came in to pull out a 19-16 win. Leinart was 6-of-7 passing for 49 yards, without any points.

Leinart will be without two of his top three receivers. Larry Fitzgerald is recovering from a sprained right knee and Early Doucet is out with an abdominal strain.

Young has the stronger position. He came off the bench and led the Titans to an 8-2 finish last season, which has erased any questions about who the starter is now.

He is coming off a solid preseason debut where he completed his first five passes before being intercepted at the end of his second series played. He drove the Titans down on the opening drive for Chris Johnson's 1-yard touchdown run, but the Titans (0-1) lost at Seattle 20-18.

"Great to be at home before the fans," Young said. "We've got some great fans in Nashville plus getting under those lights on Monday night against a team that probably pretty much wants some payback from us from that ... game last year."

This also will be the first game at LP Field since flood waters engulfed it and the parking lots in May.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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