Leinart's Debut a Mixed Bag Against Pats

August 20th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Leinart's Debut a Mixed Bag Against Pats

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/print?id=2333978Matt Leinart's NFL Debut a Mixed Bag As Patriots Rout Cardinals 30-3 in Exhibition Game


The Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Matt Leinart looked like a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at the start of his NFL career. It didn't last.
Leinart spent the rest of Arizona's 30-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Saturday night resembling what he is a rookie with almost no real practice experience.

Five days after reporting to the Cardinals' training camp, the 2004 Heisman winner entered Arizona's exhibition game with 1:09 left in the first half. He promptly drove the Cardinals 54 yards to set up Neil Rackers' field goal, scrambling for 29 yards on two runs and completing 3 of 6 passes for 20 yards on the drive.

That was against a New England defense made up mostly of regulars.

The starters should have stayed in the game. In the third quarter, he was just 1-for-5 a 25-yard completion to tight end Eric Edwards and was sacked twice by New England backups. He finished the game 4-of-11 for 49 yards.

For New England, it was a workmanlike effort. Tom Brady played most of the first half and completed 15 of 20 passes for 149 yards as the Patriots marched up and down the field but usually stalled before reaching the end zone.

Rookie Stephen Gostkowski, competing to become the replacement for Adam Vinatieri, kicked three field goals for the Patriots. Matt Cassel, Leinart's backup at Southern Cal, threw two TD passes for New England a 9-yarder to Heath Evans in the third quarter and a 5-yarder to Rich Musinski in the fourth quarter as both sides inserted subs liberally.

That made Leinart, who on Monday signed a six-year deal that could be worth $51 million, the major part of the show. He was the NFL's last draft choice to sign.

At first, he made it look as though his drop to 10th overall in the draft was a mistake at one point he was considered the top rookie coming out or at least one of the top three.

Because the Patriots had the ball on three long first-half scoring drives, Leinart didn't enter until late in the half.

His first NFL play was a pass in the right flat to wide-open running back J.J. Arrington that picked up 11 yards. His longest play was a 16-yard scramble up the middle that might have gained more had he not slid down at his 45. His second-longest was a 13-yard run to the New England 37.

But in the second half, Leinart looked like the raw rookie he is. On one sack, he fumbled but teammate Marcel Shipp recovered. As the game went on, he looked more and more unsure.

Cassel, by contrast, got better as the Cardinals put in more subs.

A seventh-round draft pick a year ago, Cassel finished 13-of-19 for 185 yards and those two touchdowns, far better than Leinart, who beat him out for the starting job at Southern Cal after Carson Palmer was the No. 1 pick by Cincinnati in the 2001 draft.

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