Cardinals rookie quarterback Max Hall throws a pass during Thursday night's 20-10 preseason victory over the Redskins.
The Cardinals can't get away from having the quarterback as the story.
For the last week, the theme was mostly Matt Leinart but also Derek Anderson, and the switch between the two at the top of the depth chart. For Thursday night's preseason finale against the Redskins at University of Phoenix Stadium, undrafted rookie Max Hall took his turn grabbing a headline or two.
With questions about Leinart's Arizona future as a backdrop, Hall – the soon-to-be-25-year-old local guy who attended BYU – looked sharp in spearheading the Cards' 20-10 victory. Maybe, just maybe, Hall will end up as Anderson's backup if Leinart doesn't stay.
"I am very comfortable in doing that," Hall said. "I have a long way to go to be successful as a starter in this league but I feel comfortable as a backup, to keep learning and to get an opportunity to play once in a while and prepare myself for the future."
Hall finished 7-of-9 for 126 yards and a rushing touchdown, and also led another TD drive during his time in the game.
"It was good to see Max make some plays," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It was good we were able to play him so much in the preseason so we could see him develop."
The question is whether Hall won Whisenhunt and his staff over enough to provide the flexibility to make some kind of move with Leinart. Whisenhunt said he hasn't ruled out carrying four quarterbacks on the roster – including rookie John Skelton – but the way the Leinart saga has played out, the former first-round pick's long-term status seems questionable.
Leinart played two series against the Redskins (2-2), and his 14 yards on 3-of-5 passes probably didn't do much to change his status as current backup. So now he goes into the weekend amid reports his agent had been given permission to seek a trade partner.
Leinart said he didn't know if his agent had been given that permission – "I don't really pay much attention," he said – and repeated a few times the situation was out of his control.
Asked what he wants to have happen, Leinart said "honestly, I have no idea."
"I'm not really worried about it," Leinart added. "I'm just going to go home to my son, hang out with him, wake up, and see what happens. I just want to play and have a chance to play."
Whisenhunt said there is a difficult decision to make about the quarterbacks, but that he is looking for tough choices to make at every position. That, he said, shows the kind of depth a team has.
Anderson impressed too, completing 2-of-3 passes for 47 yards on his lone drive (ending in a field goal). Two weeks ago he was the backup. Now he's a virtual lock to be the starter, even though Whisenhunt still has not said as much.
"I thought the preseason went well," Anderson said in his low-key way.
Anderson's eyes did light up when asked about Hall's play, however, saying he "loved it."
"Max has done a good job in the preseason and he's learned the system well," Anderson said. "He made some plays when things broke down. Loved the way he played."
Hall's first completion was a 17-yarder on the run to tight end Stephen Spach to convert a third-and-12, sparking his first touchdown drive. His second TD drive was helped by a nice 34-yard completion to fellow rookie Max Komar, and capped when Hall scrambled to his left and scored from six yards out by tucking the ball inside the pylon.
It helped Whisenhunt to his best preseason record yet – 3-1. Now Hall waits to see if his performance helps him to an unexpected spot on the depth chart.
"I thought I did everything I could do with my opportunity," Hall said. "I hope the coaches liked what they saw. I want to be here so hopefully they keep me around.
"I thought they gave me a very fair shot and I think I took advantage."
Running back Beanie Wells had a chance at a big run early, but in open space was cut down on a nice play by Redskins cornerback Kevin Barnes. But Barnes nailed Wells' right leg on the play. Wells said he was fine.
"At that point, you just don't want to put him back in and risk anything," Whisenhunt said.
Cornerback Michael Adams, who left with a left shoulder strain after trying to recover a muffed punt, was the only player that concerned Whisenhunt injury-wise. Adams will be checked out Friday, but he said the shoulder was already sore and was simply aggravated.
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