Ever since he graduated to the NFL four years ago, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart has struggled to find his place in the league. First, he played behind Kurt Warner. Now, it's possible he may find himself toting a clipboard behind Derek Anderson, who washed out in Cleveland.
Leinart figured he would be the Cardinals' starter this season, but instead he finds himself in a battle with Anderson – one he might be losing.
"I feel like I've outplayed the competition, training camp, preseason," Leinart told reporters Monday. "I think my play speaks about that. For me, this goes beyond the football field."
Leinart wouldn't explain the reasons behind his thinking, but he also admitted that he hasn't spoken to coach Ken Whisenhunt about why he isn't the team's No. 1. The Cardinals play the Washington Redskins on Thursday, and neither Leinart nor Anderson has been named the starter.
"The philosophy is you want the best 11 guys to play," Leinart said. "I feel like I've proved that with my performance. I don't really know what else I could possibly do, so it probably goes beyond football. For me, I just really want an explanation and I haven't been given one."
Leinart has completed 82.6 percent of his passes, but none has been over 18 yards and his average per attempt in a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans was just 4.7 yards. Anderson was 7 of 12 passing last Saturday against the Chicago Bears and has thrown two TD passes in the preseason.
Through it all, Whisenhunt insists he's undecided about a starter, either for the last preseason game or the regular season. But despite Leinart's failings, the Arizona coach professes to like his quarterback.
"I've been with Matt for four years now," he said. "I have great respect for how Matt's worked. I think what we've been consistent with is … always trying to pick the best team. That's what this process is about. It's not about whether you like somebody or don't like somebody."
For Leinart, it's about performing. And until he does, it doesn't matter what he thinks.
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