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Burns: Leinart will be the backup QB

When your boss tells you that you’ll have a great chance to earn extra incentives, is he a liar when you don’t? Of course not. It’s not a lie; it’s how you define the word “chance”. 90% chance, 5% chance, it could mean anything.

When your kid wants the little punk kid down the street to have a sleep over and you say, “we’ll see,” are you lying? No. You’re just delaying the truth a little bit.

When your wife says she doesn’t mind going to that shoot ‘em up movie, is she lying? No. As long as you don’t mind her snarky attitude about the flick at dinner afterwards, pointing out the things that could obviously never happen in real life (like I need you to tell me that – it’s not a documentary it’s a big budget summer action flick – leave me alone).

So when Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt told Brian St. Pierre he’d have an opportunity to win the #2 QB position with the Cardinals, he wasn’t lying. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen either. Matt Leinart is going to be the #2 and everybody knows it.

It’s a great state of affairs when the battle of the backups grabs headlines. First of all, as was pointed out in Flagstaff Tuesday, there is not a whole lot else to talk about. And that, my friends, is a great thing at NFC Champ Camp. No melodrama, no serious wounds of the ego, no serious wounds to the body. Life is good.

But it’s also further proof that we’re now a football town; we’ve been transformed. This is how it works in NFL cities across the country. Even the most seemingly insignificant detail becomes a story for a day. That’s the power of the National Football League, one that we’re just now getting to experience after more than 20 years of calling this team our own.

There is a reason Matt Leinart didn’t demand a trade this offseason. He knows the offense. He knows the personnel. He knows that he’s one Kurt-Warner-broken-finger away from being the QB of the defending NFC Champions. He knows that the odds of Warner playing every game and taking every snap are extraordinarily small.

He sounds like he is ready for the chance. I heard him on with Gambo and Ash Tuesday here on Sports 620 KTAR. I was struck by that sound of ready. Like the college student who just knows he’s going to ace the test. He sounded all grown up.

This is nothing against St. Pierre, and should he win the gig it’s obviously a reflection of what the coaching staff thinks of Leinart.

And the coaching staff has demonstrated in the past they will follow through on their promises. Just think back to last year. Very few (including, I think at times, Warner himself) thought Warner was going to get a legit chance to supplant Leinart as the starter.

But what you shouldn’t do is dismiss this story. Given the dangerous nature of the position, Warner’s age and his history of injuries this battle of the backups isn’t irrelevant. Not by a long shot.

But after St. Pierre was told what he wanted to hear, his chances of actually winning the spot might be just that. A long shot.

Author’s Note: Updated Thursday morning

I saw where Whisenhunt addressed the “battle” for the #2 QB spot in slightly amused tones. “It means there’s not a whole lot else going on. Nobody talks about the battle for the second team running back or the battle for the second team linebacker and there’s no difference.”

He’s right and he’s wrong.

There is nothing else going on. That is spot-on analysis.

But there is a huge difference between the backup linebacker and the backup quarterback, especially when your starting QB has a history of injuries and the position itself has a perilous nature. I believe that the backup QB on this team will end up playing a role in the Cards success/failure this year. Don’t scoff at this story Cards fan; it’s relevant to the conversation.