Whisenhunt sticks up for Leinart

August, 24, 2008
8/24/08
7:55
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart had left the locker room by the time reporters arrived to ask about his three-interception performance against the Raiders tonight.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt and veteran quarterback Kurt Warner did stick around to provide some answers. Whisenhunt defended Leinart to a degree:

"I know just based on what Matt has done this spring, what he has done this camp, tonight doesn't negate any of that. I'm very pleased with the way he has progressed and we'll learn from this and we'll get better."

The Raiders play more press coverage than other teams. Whisenhunt wanted receiver Larry Fitzgerald to create more room on the outside for the first pass of the game, a deep ball from Leinart that the Raiders picked off. Leinart also threw the ball a little too far inside. Leinart was late with the throw on an interception intended for receiver Anquan Boldin up the left middle of the field. Having thrown interceptions already, Leinart might have held the ball to make extra certain he was making the correct read, Whisenhunt reasoned.

Whisenhunt didn't indicate if he was now leaning toward Warner as the starter:

"This is a process and it's an evaluation over time and this is part of the process, how Matt handles this and how he responds to this. You're not going to play great every week. We understand that. We didn't run the ball as well with Matt as we did with Kurt and that always makes it easier on a quarterback when you do that. A big part of where we go from here is learning from this tape. It wasn't all Matt. There were a couple times I know from seeing it on the field where our receivers went to the wrong side of the DBs and didn't follow what they were supposed to do on their assignments. We were aware of that coming into this game just because of the looks we knew we were going to face from the Raiders."

Leinart completed 4 of 12 passes for 24 yards. His rating was 2.8. Warner completed 2 of 4 passes for 40 yards. His rating was 85.4. Third-team quarterback Brian St. Pierre completed 7 of 8 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown to tight end Leonard Pope. Whisenhunt said he had planned for Warner to replace Leinart late in the first half, allowing Warner to operate the 2-minute offense (something Leinart had done the week prior).

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