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With Leinart unhappy, Whisenhunt plans to keep alternating QBs

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt knows starting quarterback Matt Leinart is unhappy splitting time with Kurt Warner.

Whisenhunt also knows his two-quarterback scheme has helped the Cardinals (2-2) match their best start in 20 mostly dismal seasons in Arizona. And that's why he has no thoughts of changing the game plan, which calls for Warner to come off the bench occasionally and lead a no-huddle attack.

"I think we have two guys that are unique in that we have two unselfish guys that have a very good relationship," Whisenhunt said on Monday. "I also feel like we have, in a backup quarterback a former MVP, former Super Bowl winner that is a good football player, and he's shown that he can do that."

Questions about the quarterbacks dominated Whisenhunt's weekly Monday news conference, even though the Cardinals were coming off their most notable victory in recent memory, a physical 21-14 win over previously unbeaten Pittsburgh in Glendale.

The Cardinals are 2-2 for only the sixth time since they moved to Arizona in 1988. They visit winless St. Louis this week.

Many of the questions have arisen because Leinart has made no secret of his displeasure with the scheme.

"I'd be lying if I said I was happy with the way things are going," Leinart said Monday. "But at the same time, it's pushing me to become a better football player."

Leinart said he's "been real supportive of the situation." But he added, "I want to play. I want be the starting quarterback. I want to play every single play."

Leinart, the Cardinals' first round pick in 2006, went the distance in the first two games, throwing two touchdown passes and three interceptions as Arizona lost to San Francisco and defeated Seattle.

Whisenhunt sprung the no-huddle attack on Baltimore in Week 3. Warner helped Arizona erase a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit before the Ravens kicked the winning field goal with no time remaining.

As soon as that game ended, Whisenhunt declared Leinart was still his starter and tried to downplay any potential quarterback controversy. He did the same thing Monday.

"It's really not pulling one guy to put another guy in," Whisenhunt said. "It's more of a package thing.

"I know it's a little bit different. It's a harder thing to get your mind around a substitution at the quarterback position than it is maybe as a receiver or a running back or a tight end."

Against the Steelers, Leinart was 7-of-14 for 93 yards. Warner, who entered the game in the second quarter, went 14-of-21 for 132 yards and a touchdown. Neither quarterback threw an interception.

Leinart turned in what might have been the biggest play, a 38-yard strike to Larry Fitzgerald early in the fourth quarter. The play sparked a scoring drive that gave the Cardinals an insurmountable 21-7 lead.

"I feel good about giving the team a chance to win, and we did that with our offense," Leinart said.

But Leinart said he's struggled to maintain his rhythm, which is essential for a quarterback.

"It's hard to sometimes get rhythm, and that's just the bottom line," Leinart said. "I mean that's obvious, to be a quarterback, to get in there, come out, then not really know when you're going to play again. But you've got to be ready, you've got to bounce back and you've got to be mentally tough. And that's something that I'm just trying to do."

Whisenhunt would probably rather talk about anything besides his quarterback situation. But he said he's not irritated that Leinart had aired his feelings.

"I'm sure that he has feelings about it, and I'm sure sometimes those feelings are hard to be contained," Whisenhunt said. "He is a competitor. He does want to play. It doesn't bother me."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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