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McCown gets fourth straight start at QB

TEMPE, Ariz. (Oct. 26, 2005) -- Josh McCown got Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green's nod to start against the Dallas Cowboys.

Green wouldn't reveal his reasons for picking the fourth-year quarterback over two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner and said McCown's being a native Texan pumped up to play in Texas Stadium could be a plus or a minus.

"I don't think he can be overly consumed with it, because that can work against you," Green said. "You've got to have poise, but he's a Texas gunslinger. He went to SMU, he transferred and went to Sam Houston State because he didn't think they threw the football enough.

"He's got to be poised, but he also wants to show that he can lead this football team."

Warner got a one-year, $4 million contract to sign with the Cardinals in the offseason and was elevated to the starting job after minicamps.

But he suffered a groin injury in the third game and that opened the door for McCown, who passed for 385 and 394 yards in a win over San Francisco in Mexico City and a close loss to Carolina at home.

Coming off Arizona's bye week, the offense stalled against the Titans -- McCown was 12 of 28 for 140 of Arizona's 173 total yards -- but the Cardinals (2-4) beat Tennessee 20-10, and Green followed his instincts and stayed with McCown, whose 9-10 record is better than any starter Arizona has had since he was drafted in 2001.

"We think this will help us win," Green said. "Any decision we make we take that into account."

Warner has been healthy for two weeks, and last week Green didn't announce the starter until the players walked onto the field to play the Titans. This time, he let the players know Oct. 26 before practice.

"It's no difference in what I do," center Alex Stepanovich said. "It's one of those situations where both of them are great guys and good football players, and just one's got to play and the other one is not, and we've just got to handle our job up front no matter who's behind us."

Anquan Boldin, whose streak of 31 consecutive games with a catch ended against the Titans. said the big difference from a receiver's point of view is that Warner is "a big timing guy" who releases the ball quicker.

"But Josh has been pretty successful when he's been in there, so hopefully he can do the same thing this week," Boldin said.

McCown was holding a clipboard when Jeff Blake led the Cardinals into Dallas the last time the teams played -- a 24-7 win by the Cowboys on Oct. 5, 2003.

"Even backing up, I got excited just being there, and the feeling, so now going in there as a starter it'll definitely be different, but you have to kind of check your emotions and don't get too excited," McCown said. "It's still the same old football field."

McCown's stock will take a giant step forward if he is able to beat a team from the NFC East -- especially the Cowboys, who are 53-28-1 against the Cardinals -- and produce a rare road victory. Arizona is 1-17 in road games since 2002, losing five straight since McCown led them to a 24-23 win in Miami last Nov. 7.

"It starts with playing smart," McCown said. "If you don't play smart football on the road, if you get behind on turnovers on the road, the percentage of you winning the game get very, very slim."

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