Baseball was still on Matt Leinart’s mind Wednesday even after the Cardinals finished their organized team workout for the day, noting that one of his batting practice homers with the Diamondbacks the night before had been featured on ESPN’s plays of the day.
“SportsCenter top 10, baby,” Leinart said with a grin, brushing off the two blisters the temporary sports switch had created on his throwing hand.
Football, though, remains the most important sport in Leinart’s life, and he continues to insist his growth as a quarterback will continue even as the Cards’ offseason work comes to a close today.
“As an offense we are still learning,” Leinart said. “You don’t want to make excuses, but the defense has played well and has been ahead of us some days. They are giving us great looks. There is a lot more tempo and intensity than before.
“I have to hit the playbook hard the next two months. As the season comes closer, I have to know what I am doing, and that’s on me. I have to take advantage of the next seven weeks I have off.”
Leinart’s throwing during offseason workouts has gotten better as the weeks have passed. Coming off a left (throwing) shoulder injury late in the 2006 season, Leinart looked like he needed time to find a rhythm again.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he has seen Leinart’s confidence in his shoulder increase and that it has been easy to see the difference. Leinart said that more than anything, he needed to develop a trust in where his receivers would be in the new offense. As that has improved, so has Leinart’s accuracy.
One fact Leinart will not dispute is that he feels stronger and faster going through an entire offseason conditioning program under strength coach John Lott. Leinart is up to 235 pounds (from 230) and believes he is physically better equipped for the season.
And if Leinart is “bigger and stronger physically,” Whisenhunt said, “then you are more confident to stand in (the pocket) and make some of those throws.”
Leinart said he will spend the bulk of the time until training camp in California near his son, Cole, being a father and working out there.
“I want to take these next two months,” Leinart said, “and work my butt off.”
Elton Brown was the lost draft pick from 2005. Then Whisenhunt arrived to coach the Cards.
Brown got in the weight room, dropping 40 pounds (so far) from the 379 he weighed. He wants to drop another 10 or so. And he has played well enough that Whisenhunt felt comfortable enough to cut the top veteran backup guard — Milford Brown.
“It is good to be counted on now,” Elton Brown said. “I appreciate it. … That whole situation (with Milford Brown), it does let me know it is my turn.”
That turn almost never came in Arizona. Elton Brown acknowledged he was a disappointment as a rookie, even to himself. Last year, he was nearly cut in training camp, and after barely making the roster, he was inactive for every game.
He knew the critics called him a bust, but he worked hard to revive his career.
“I don’t worry about what people say,” Brown said. “I have been through a lot in my life. If I worried what people say I would have been done a long time ago. I just blank all that out.”
Fullback Femi Ayanbadejo was still upset Wednesday morning after being cut, unhappy the team didn’t figure out until June he wouldn’t fit in their plans.
But Whisenhunt said he wanted time to evaluate Ayanbadejo to see if he could work in the system.
“Femi has skills, but as far as where he fit for this team, he is not the prototype fullback that you are looking for, and we have some young guys in here to see if they can do it or not,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s ultimately what it comes down to.”
With veteran starting fullback Terrelle Smith still absent from workouts (Smith told Whisenhunt he would be gone ahead of time), undrafted rookie Tim Castille was taking first-string fullback reps Wednesday. The Cards also have undrafted rookie fullbacks BranDon Snow and Roshon Vercher on the roster, along with holdover A.J. Schable.
Ayanbadejo said he has talked to five teams about a contract, although he declined to say which teams. …
Milford Brown may land in Miami, while released defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy could have interest from New Orleans.