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Back from exile, McCown expected to be Arizona's No. 1 QB entering next season

Josh McCown has followed his three-week benching with three of his best NFL outings, and he expects to be the Arizona Cardinals' No. 1 quarterback going into next season.

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ Josh McCown has followed his three-week benching with three of his best NFL outings, and he expects to be the Arizona Cardinals' No. 1 quarterback going into next season.

``I don't make those decisions, so I don't know, but that's my mind-set, that's how I'm approaching this last game and that's how I'll approach this offseason,'' McCown said after the team's rain-shortened workout on Wednesday.

McCown said coach Dennis Green hasn't talked to him about next season. Green told reporters Wednesday that he considers McCown the team's starting quarterback for next season, too. Asked if that would be true regardless of what moves are made in the offseason, though, Green hedged a bit.

We have a lot of things we have to do with our football team,'' Green said.We haven't gone out and said 'We've got to have this or we've got to have that.'''

From the moment he was hired as Arizona's coach after last season, Green was an outspoken backer of McCown, passing on drafting a quarterback with the No. 3 pick in favor of receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Arizona's offense was sputtering, but the Cardinals had won two straight and three of four when Green stunned his team by announcing on the eve of the Nov. 21 game at Carolina that he was benching McCown in favor of Shaun King. Two games later, rookie John Navarre got the start.

The result was three consecutive losses that left Arizona 4-8. The Cardinals are 1-2 since McCown returned as the starter, but the third-year quarterback has improved.

I think that he's played better since he's come back,'' Green said.He was in a pretty tough part of the season, and as a head coach, you know, you're not supposed to watch guys struggle. It's not good. I've never believed in it.''

In the three games, McCown has completed 62 percent of his passes (69-for-111) for 842 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions.

He said that watching those three games from the sideline after starting the first nine helped him become a better player.

It's been a great learning year,'' he said.I just try to look at everything positive. By no means am I happy with this record, but at the same time you've got to take it for what it is. You learn from it and you move on to give it your best for next year.''

The Cardinals finish their season Sunday at home against Tampa Bay. Both teams are 5-10 and headed nowhere, but McCown said he has plenty of incentive to perform well.

It's just another chance to continue to improve,'' he said.It's a game that obviously, without any playoff implications, doesn't mean anything in that regard. But it's a great game to go out and work to get better. You can get better in your decision-making as a quarterback and all the little things that the game involves.''

The recent games lifted McCown's passing rating to 77.3, ahead of Michael Vick, Joey Harrington and Vinnie Tesaverde, but still near in the lower reaches of the NFC rankings. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

He knows it is those little things, and his decision making in the pocket, that McCown knows he must work on to regain the massive trust Green once expressed in him, and unleash the offense that receivers Anquan Boldin and Fitzgerald should someday bring.

I think he wants to be good,'' Green said.This is his third year. He wants to be a player. He's got the enthusiasm to be a player. He's got the height. He's got the arm. We've had a lot of quarterbacks who have done well, and he should be one that does well.''

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