Warner wears brace in practice, may start against Redskins

Despite torn ligaments in his non-throwing elbow, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner practiced for a second straight day on Thursday, increasing the chances that the 10-year veteran will start in Sunday's road game against the Washington Redskins.

After experimenting with several different braces on his left arm during Wednesday's practice, Warner settled Thursday on a protective device that he said provided comfort and flexibility.

"I'm not getting hit and thrown around, but it felt good," Warner told the team's Web site. "Hopefully, too, when you are working with a brace and all that, hopefully you work out some of that irritation. Maybe I can do something on Sunday."

Coach Ken Whisenhunt stopped short of naming Warner his starter, but indicated that the two-time league MVP has demonstrated good progress since suffering the elbow injury in last week's game. Whisenhunt also noted that the veteran quarterback was able to throw without having his mechanics dramatically impaired by the brace.

Team and league sources said that if Warner continues to show progress, and has a good practice on Friday, he probably will get the start.

If Warner is unable to play, eighth-year veteran Tim Rattay, signed as a free agent last week after the Cardinals placed second-year starter Matt Leinart on injured reserve with a broken collarbone, will start. Rattay relieved Warner last Sunday and completed 12 of 24 passes for 159 yards, with no touchdown passes and three interceptions.

Rattay, 30, has started 18 games in his career. His most recent start came last New Year's Eve, when he was playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As an insurance policy, the Cardinals signed former New York Giants backup Tim Hasselbeck this week.

Hasselbeck has been getting a crash course in the Arizona offense, but is not considered ready yet to start.

Warner was injured midway through the first quarter of last Sunday's loss to Carolina when he was sacked by Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers. He left, and an MRI exam early in the week revealed torn ligaments. While the injury will not require surgery, it was originally believed Warner might miss four to six weeks.

But Warner, 36, has a high tolerance for pain and, if he can play with minimal discomfort and be effective, Whisenhunt seems inclined to keep him in the lineup.

Ball security has long been a problem for Warner, however, and he has been prone to fumbles in recent years. His ability to protect the football will certainly be a factor that the Arizona staff weighs in its decision on whether he should start against the Redskins.

For the year, Warner has completed 45 of 71 passes for 601 yards, with four touchdown passes and one interception, for a passer rating of 103.1. He has appeared in three games, and started one.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.