Based on his time with Leinart in Arizona and Houston, Smith thinks Leinart is going to surprise a lot of people on Sunday when he makes his first start since 2009.
“I’m looking forward to Matt playing, man,” Smith said on Friday. “It’s been a while. Sometimes in this game, you can get a rough shake and never get a chance to redeem yourself. With everybody’s thoughts and their preconceived notions of what Matt is, I’ve always thought he was a good quarterback. When he came in that first year with us in Arizona, he took right off. Kurt (Warner) actually turned on that next year, so then it kind of messed things up.
“But you know, I’m proud of him. He dun’ brought himself a long way, and I can’t wait for him to light it up. I think that’s what he’s going to do. I’m going to do my part to help him out, but I think he’s going to light it up.”
Leinart started 11 games as a rookie, throwing for 2,547 yards and going 4-2 in his final six games. He went 3-2 in 2007 before suffering a season-ending injury. He sat on the bench in 2008 as Warner led Arizona to the Super Bowl.
When Leinart first signed with the Texans in 2010, Smith said that Leinart didn’t fit Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt’s system as well as Warner, and that Whisenhunt seemed to believe in Warner a bit more than Leinart.
“It kind of, in my opinion, threw his confidence off or something like that,” Smith said at the time. “But this is a new beginning. You can make a new life for yourself, and it’s up to you. I think it’s in his own destiny. I think that he’s got all the skills you need… You’ve just got to find whatever it is you need to find to reach the level that everybody wants you to play at.”
It sounds like Leinart has done all of that in his season-and-a-half in Houston, at least to the extent possible in practice as a backup. Two days from now, we’ll start to find out if it carries over to the real thing.
Tags: Antonio Smith, Matt Leinart
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