Max Hall has been named starting quarterback of the Cardinals.
Max Hall had just finished his first practice as starting quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals and he still had to carry the pads of Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald off the field and into the locker room.
Hall is, after all, still a rookie.
He's a different rookie though – having turned 25 last week, and now, despite his undrafted status, he's been elevated over veteran Derek Anderson on the depth chart and already seems to command a deference from teammates that usually doesn't come in a first year.
"As a free agent rookie, you wouldn't know it," running back Tim Hightower said. "He demands your respect from the time he steps in the huddle.
(But) he has his hands full. He has his plate full in front of him – I'm not going to lie – they kind of threw him in there."
Whisenhunt said there were a "number of factors" that led him to choose to go with Hall heading into Sunday's home game against the defending Super Bowl Saints. He didn't want to get very specific as to why he demoted veteran Derek Anderson and went to Hall, other than "we were missing some things on offense," Whisenhunt said. "We just weren't making enough plays."
"This," Whisenhunt added, "is an opportunity to see if we can do that."
The Cardinals did not score an offensive touchdown Sunday for the first time since Whisenhunt became coach.
Anderson, who has struggled to a 59.5 quarterback rating, will still be the backup quarterback with rookie John Skelton remaining as the No. 3. Anderson was not available for comment. Whisenhunt said while Anderson wasn't happy, he handled the news "like a professional and with a lot of class."
Now, however, this is Hall's team, after being passed over all seven rounds by 32 franchises and improbably earning a spot on the 53-man roster after starting on the depth chart behind Anderson, Skelton and then-starter Matt Leinart.
"He believes in himself," Whisenhunt said. "I know he wanted to play. I don't think that's ever been a question."
There is irony Hall will get his first chance against the Saints and quarterback Drew Brees, who, like Hall, isn't the biggest guy (both are about 6-foot-1). In the preseason, when Hall led multiple scoring drives in the final preseason game, some teammates were even calling him "Drew."
And with Hall's undrafted status, comparisons to the Cards' former undrafted QB – Kurt Warner – have also been made.
"Kurt was a great player and a Hall of Fame guy," Hall said. "I'm not trying to compare myself to him or anything. I'm just worried about this Sunday, about executing and doing the best I can."
From the time Hall arrived, Whisenhunt was impressed with Hall's huddle management and the quickness of both his reads and release. But it's easy to be impressive in practice, where quarterbacks don't get hit and the results don't count.
While Whisenhunt has confidence in Hall, nothing has been proven.
"It's hard to say, 'OK, he's going to be able to do this in a regular-season game,' " Whisenhunt said. "(But) I'm expecting Max to do well and I'm expecting the offense to operate."
He'll have to deal with the blitzing defense of the Saints – "We gotta help the guy out," Hightower said – but it's a needed spark for an offense stuck in neutral. Fitzgerald declined to talk, saying he will Thursday, but he said earlier in the week he liked Hall's "moxie."
"Everyone knows about Max," center Lyle Sendlein said. "He's a little fiery competitive guy and I am sure no one ever gave him a chance. He is real assertive and very confident."
As for the idea Hall will still be carrying around a veteran's pads, Sendlein admitted it'd be a question.
"We'd make him though, if we wanted to," Sendlein said. "Being stubborn, he probably wouldn't. But we'll check him every now and then.
"As long as we win, it doesn't matter."
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