Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Thursday, August 6, 2009
Relaxed Leinart points to experience as asset

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

 Leinart

Matt Leinart's career as a starting quarterback remains on hold for as long as Kurt Warner plays well enough to start. The Cardinals are also giving Brian St. Pierre a chance to challenge Leinart for the No. 2 job, although at this point, Leinart will presumably get the call if anything happens to Warner.

I joined a couple other reporters in asking Leinart about his present and future as the Cardinals opened camp several days ago. As I recall, we asked Leinart about what sitting on the bench might mean for his future.

Matt Leinart: You always look at a lot of guys who sat for a long time. The thing is, I have experience. I played my rookie year. I played a little bit my second year and I got hurt and now I haven't played since I've been hurt. I look at it that I'm healthy, I feel good, I've grown up a lot as a football player in the last two years, studying and preparing. I feel great. I just have to keep working and keep preparing.

Reporter: You look taller out there.

Matt Leinart: I've got these orthotics in there. They make me taller. I love them. I noticed it. They have these special-made orthotics and they make me tall, so I kind of like them. I am the lightest I have ever been probably since college, even before college. I feel good, though, I feel strong. Just a good mentality going into the year.

Reporter: What is your weight?

Matt Leinart: 227, 228, which is pretty light, but it's good.

Reporter: The assumption would be that you didn't seek out orthotics just to appear taller.

Matt Leinart: The whole team has orthotics just to help your feet because your feet take a beating out here. That's it. No really big deal.

Reporter: How much did your offseason MMA training play into this?

Matt Leinart: Um, you know, it was, for me it was just to try something new. It kind of got blown up into this big thing and for me. I wasn't doing it because of that. That work is intense and it's hard and it takes a lot of work to do that. But it was just, I think it developed a different mindset for me. The work itself is hard, but as far as physically, it helps with your hips, your flexibility. It's a full-body workout.

As far as mentally, that is where it really helps because you push yourself to the limits and those fighters, those guys are unbelievable athletes -- what they do and what they put their bodies through. Getting in the ring is one thing. The workouts and conditioning to prepare for fights, it's unbelievable what they do. I got a taste of that and it was cool. It was just different. I feel great. It helped me slim down, but tone up and get stronger, too.

Overall, Leinart seemed relaxed. At one point, he sounded relieved to be going through camp without so much scrutiny, as this quote from our Cardinals Confidential file indicates:

"Last year was so up and down, it was like a roller-coaster. No one knew what was going to happen. It was a lot of pressure on me to perform. This year, I just feel more at ease. I'm more comfortable with the offense. I feel great. I feel like I can go in there and play. Now it's just a matter of time, when my opportunity comes, to make the most of it."