If you had asked Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart what his professional career would look like four years after being drafted, there’s no conceivable way he would have answered that he’d still not have had the opportunity to prove his meddle as a starter for more than just a few games at a time. With veteran Kurt Warner resurrecting his career in the past two seasons, that’s exactly what has happened with Leinart, who has started just five games since 2007 and none in 2008 during Arizona’s march to an NFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance.
Leinart joined XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix to talk about his frustrations, what he’s doing to prepare himself for 2009, and the possibility of him ending up in a different market where he might have a better shot at seeing the field this next two years that Warner will be under contract.
On his mindset heading in to the 2009 season, which according to his coaches has been quite impressive thus far in the ’08 offseason:
“Well, obviously it’s been a tough couple of years..and I really learned a lot last year and I’ve kind of developed a mindset where I’m aware of what I need to do to get better, to be a player, to be a good quarterback for this football team. And I’ve put in a ton of extra work this offseason. Obviously the offseason’s not over yet but just in the film room, working out, working on my footwork, just working on the little things that are going to help me. And I truly believe that I’m ready to play, it’s just a matter of when that opportunity comes.”
On how hard it is for him to be patient waiting for his chance to play:
“I want to play bad. I’m anxious, and the fact that I know I’m mentally ready and mentally prepared makes it harder. Like I said, I’m a competitor, I want to be out there throwing touchdowns and leading this team…”
On how much solace he might find in the career trajectory of a guy like Steve Young, who also had to wait his turn behind Joe Montana before exploding on to the scene later in his career:
“Obviously I’m not Steve Young but there is some truth to that in terms of waiting your turn and being patient and when the opportunity comes taking full advantage of it. So that’s something I’m hoping to do when that opportunity does come. It’s obviously the perfect scenario to look at, you know, when Steve took over he obviously didn’t miss a step and won Super Bowls with the 49ers.”