NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Matt Leinart has been benched after just two preseason games, this after the Arizona Cardinals gave him the starting job following Kurt Warner’s retirement.
It could be just a temporary move — or maybe not.
“Well, I don’t think we’ve played really well enough offensively to make any determination other than we need to get better,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Thursday. “We’re looking at different combinations of people.”
What Leinart will be looking at is Derek Anderson, signed to be his backup, starting Saturday night in Chicago against the Bears.
Whisenhunt’s expectations aren’t that high, he would just like to see a few first downs.
“I’d like to see us operate a little better early in the game,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s not necessarily the first quarter, that’s the first quarter, the second quarter. Seems like last week we went three three-and-outs, and then we had a drive going.
“I’d like to see us perform a little better earlier in the game.”
Leinart hasn’t be able to get it done.
The 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft started for Arizona in a 24-10 loss to Tennessee on Monday night and lasted all of nine plays. He couldn’t produce a first down or any points. Leinart was a pedestrian 4 of 6 for 28 yards against the Titans, and is 10 of 13 for 77 yards in Arizona’s first two preseason games.
His longest pass of the preseason has been 16 yards, and he has been sacked twice.
Whisenhunt was asked if he explained the change to Leinart on why Anderson worked with the first-team offense Thursday in the team’s lone chance to prep for Chicago.
“I’m sure that nobody on this team wants to be in that situation. Once again, I think it’s not anything against Matt or the quarterback position. It’s we’re looking at different people and trying to find out what’s the best combination for our team right now,” Whisenhunt said.
Anderson, who spent his first five NFL seasons in Cleveland, is the quarterback with the most completions (24), throws (41) and yards (193) on the roster. His longest completion went for 37 yards.
He came in on the Cardinals’ first drive of the second quarter and moved them 62 yards in eight plays, giving Arizona a first-and-goal at the Tennessee 6 before misfiring on two passes into the end zone.
Whisenhunt said Anderson will play approximately the first quarter in a flip of how they played the quarterbacks against Tennessee. The coach said it was an opportunity to see players in different roles as they also switch up at linebacker, cornerback and on the offensive line to evaluate personnel.
Anderson was told on Thursday morning that he would be working with the first-team offense.
“I don’t know where we’ll go from here, but continue to work and get better every single day and see what happens,” Anderson said after the Cardinals finished practicing at Vanderbilt University.
This already had been an unusual week for the Cardinals (1-1). They broke camp last Saturday and have been in Nashville since flying into town Sunday. They played the Titans and stuck around Nashville to avoid the long flight back to Arizona before hitting the road again to play Chicago (0-2).
Anderson said he thought practice Thursday was good after the Cardinals practiced with the Titans on Wednesday.
“Threw it well and just continue to try to get the ball in the right spots,” he said.
No matter who’s been at quarterback, it hasn’t been easy with all the injuries at receiver. Larry Fitzgerald sprained his right knee in the 19-16 preseason opening loss to Houston, and Early Doucet missed the Tennessee game with an abdominal strain. Now Darren Mougey broke his hand Wednesday, and Andre Roberts hurt his shoulder Monday night.
Fitzgerald increased his work Thursday, but the Cardinals’ goal is having the Pro Bowl receiver ready for the season opener Sept. 12 at St. Louis. Doucet returned to practice Thursday and may play at Chicago.
NOTES: The Cardinals had plenty of visitors as several of the Vanderbilt Commodores came out to watch the NFL visitors work out on their practice fields. The Cardinals have been working out at the university’s weight room this week before the team flies to Chicago on Friday.
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