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Whisenhunt encouraged by Leinart

Posted Jun 1, 2010

Notebook: Team officially extends tender to RFA Lutui again

Quarterback Matt Leinart takes a snap at a recent OTA session.
 
 
For all the talk about what Matt Leinart has or hasn’t been during the Cardinals’ offseason work, it’s hard to discount what his head coach is saying publicly about his quarterback.

And what Ken Whisenhunt noted Tuesday, as the Cards started the third of the four-week session for organized team activities, all seemed positive.

“You see it in (Matt’s) confidence, how he runs the huddle and how he sees the plays,” Whisenhunt said. “His reads are much more decisive. He is throwing the ball with confidence. And I think he knows what is in front of him.

“It’s obvious to me he’s more comfortable with the whole process, not just throwing a pass or knowing where guys line up. He understands the concepts of the plays and he has the ability to get us in and out of certain plays, all those things you see more assuredness from him. I am excited with what he has done in the OTAs so far.”

In his play, Leinart has taken a step forward since OTAs began. The idea Leinart understands the concepts may be the most important part of his development, especially at this time of year when pads remain in the locker room and no one hits the quarterback.

While no one is going to discount backup Derek Anderson, Whisenhunt’s comments point to his own relative comfortability with Leinart. While the coach isn’t proclaiming Leinart a Hall of Famer, he also isn’t tepid in his endorsement.

“When you have gone through the things he has been through, as a high draft pick, playing some your first year and then not playing as much as you wanted the next few, you face a crisis,” Whisenhunt said. “How are you going to handle it? To me, he has done well with that. It was a struggle early and he has matured. Having a family is definitely something that will make you grow up quickly and he has handled that well. I have a lot of respect for Matt, what he has gone through and where he is right now.”

Leinart, as he has, repeated the idea he can’t really prove anything until he plays – and succeeds – in games.

“My confidence is back,” Leinart said. “It’s hard to explain … but I am good. I have to keep progressing but I can’t wait. I kind of want to just jump-start to the season and play. It’s coming easier to me than it ever has.”

DEUCE TENDERED – AGAIN

General manager Rod Graves confirmed the Cardinals resubmitted their one-year tender offer to restricted free agent guard Deuce Lutui Tuesday, a necessary piece of paperwork to keep Lutui’s exclusive rights. The next big date for Lutui is June 15, which is the date by which he needs to sign the tender or the Cards have the option to lower the $1.76 million down to about $600,000. The Cardinals still want Lutui, and eventually, they still want to keep him long-term.

As for the rest of the offensive line, Whisenhunt said the group is meshing well, even though they can’t wear pads or hit.

“Their communication, their camaraderie, the way they work together … we are switching guys around, it’s a positive,” Whisenhunt said.

Whisenhunt reiterated the competition possibilities (even without Lutui around) and noted the depth, saying the Cards got right tackle Brandon Keith some work at left tackle Tuesday and reserve left tackle Jeremy Bridges some work at right tackle.

RUNNING TO START

Tim Hightower has been with the first unit at running back, ahead of Beanie Wells. It was a setup that worked well for the Cardinals last season, even later in the year once Wells starting getting the bulk of the carries.

But Whisenhunt said even though the depth chart has stayed the same thus far, last season will have nothing to do with whether Wells or Hightower starts once the regular season begins in St. Louis Sept. 12.

“This is a whole new season,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve got a lot of time before we have to make any decisions with that. Both guys are good football players.”
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