The way we hear it, Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was dead serious when he went out of his way to give Matt Leinart the strongest of endorsements as the team's starting quarterback at the recent press conference to announce the signing of ex-Browns QB Derek Anderson. Whisenhunt's full-fledged support of Leinart is a dramatic departure from the way he has handled the quarterback in the past. Previously, Whisenhunt figured that keeping Leinart constantly challenged would bring out the best in the former first-round draft pick, whose commitment and work ethic have been questioned on occasion. At the recent owners' meetings, though, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who coached Leinart at USC, said the light really went on for Leinart after Carroll decided to make him the undisputed starter for the Trojans over Matt Cassel. It appears Whisenhunt is now banking on a similar improvement in Leinart after a vote of confidence that surprised many team observers.
"He is not on the same short leash he was before with Kurt Warner breathing down his neck by any means," said one veteran team insider of Leinart, who we hear has immediately begun showing strong leadership skills in the offseason workouts that began earlier this week. "I would think they will let him play through his mistakes this preseason and show some patience." We hear another reason for Leinart's relatively firm grip on the starting job are the red flags that were waved in Cleveland by Anderson, whose 42.1 passer rating in 2009 is impossible to ignore. "They really like his size and arm," the insider said of the 6-6, 230-pound Anderson. "But they also have acknowledged his inconsistency and lack of accuracy."
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