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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
'Human rabbit foot' giving Cards an edge


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- The most overlooked coach on the Cardinals' staff is gunning for his third Super Bowl ring with as many teams.

Jeff Rutledge, 52, coaches Arizona's quarterbacks, which means he's directly responsible for helping Kurt Warner overcome some of the turnover problems that led coach Ken Whisenhunt to take a long look at backup Matt Leinart heading into this season.

But you won't find Rutledge's name on the familiar lists of assistant coaches in line for promotions. With the Cardinals' media day session at full speed Tuesday morning, Rutledge sat alone in the stands at Raymond James Stadium.

While reporters swarmed offensive coordinator Todd Haley and assistant head coach Russ Grimm, Rutledge sat anonymously under a placard bearing his name. The Super Bowl rings he won as a backup quarterback with the Steelers and Giants were nowhere in sight, both stored away for safekeeping. Rutledge, who broke into NFL coaching with Whisenhunt's initial Cardinals staff in 2007, knows his place on a staff with hot coaching candidates.

"Coach Haley is the offensive coordinator and he has done a great job working with Kurt as well and he calls the plays, and Ken has been there as well," Rutledge said. "It's a team effort, a team sport. Whatever any of us can do to help the team, we do it."

Rutledge played for the 1979 Rams team that beat the Bucs in Tampa to advance to Super Bowl XIV against the Steelers. He's 2-0 in Super Bowls since then and he's been called the human rabbit foot. Plenty of coaches have been called worse.

"Todd is offensive coordinator and works very closely with Kurt and I," he said. "The thing I'm most proud of Kurt for is his ball security. He has made a real conscious effort of correcting that and we work on that every day."