QB competition gets to Leinart, Warner

August, 25, 2008
8/25/08
9:36
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

WarnerLeinart

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt won't get complaints from reporters by naming Kurt Warner his starting quarterback. Warner can be a terrific interview. He provided a detailed answer Saturday night when I asked him to differentiate between hunter and hunted in the race to become a starting quarterback:

I think there is a lot of pressure because there is the scrutiny of every throw. You have people looking at every single throw and you make a bad throw and you know people are going to start leaning one way or the other. That is the hard part. I think it's hard on both ends. Because one way or the other, when you are in a competition, people are scrutinizing every little thing and not everybody knows the details in every given situation.
That's where it gets hard because you get to the point sometimes where you start pressing or you start getting cautious and not playing your game because you're worried about making a mistake. ... You let one mistake start bothering you and feel like it affects you and it leads to another one and another one. ... Sometimes it locks you up more than frees you up to play your game.

That seemed to be the case with Matt Leinart against the Raiders. The Cardinals opened the game in conservative personnel (two backs, two tight ends, one receiver). Leinart threw deep for Larry Fitzgerald along the right sideline. As Whisenhunt noted, Fitzgerald didn't create as much space along the sideline as the Cardinals would have wanted. The Raiders' coverage, more aggressive than what most teams employ, probably dictated some of this. Leinart threw into coverage and the Raiders picked him off.

Leinart hasn't spoken publicly since the game. Warner wasn't particularly sharp against the Raiders. The competition might be getting to him as well. Warner:

I'm playing the game a little faster than I want to at this point in time. Coming in and knowing I'm only going to get a short period of time, trying to rush things and force things, that's not how we want to play.
Whisenhunt hasn't made an announcement on a starting quarterback. An announcement could come as early as today. The starter is scheduled to address reporters Monday.

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