Sports

Leinart era over in Arizona

The Arizona Cardinals released Matt Leinart, parting ways with the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner who was supposed to be the team's franchise quarterback but couldn't escape the backup role.

“In fairness to Matt, I think that it would be a tough position for him to be in a backup role,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Maybe a fresh start for him is what would be a good thing, for all of us.”

The Cardinals tried to trade Leinart but found no acceptable deal. By cutting Leinart, Arizona doesn’t have to pay him the $2.5 million he was due for the coming season, not to mention the $7.4 million, plus a $5.5 million roster bonus, he was scheduled to make next season.

Arizona thought it had a steal when Leinart, who led Southern California to two national championships and a third title game appearance, fell to the Cardinals at the No. 10 overall pick in 2006. Then-coach Dennis Green called it “a gift from heaven.”

He started 11 games as a rookie under Green, then the first five the following season under new coach Whisenhunt. But the left-hander then went down with a broken collarbone and Kurt Warner took over.

This year, he expected to finally get his chance after Warner retired, but was replaced by Cleveland castoff Derek Anderson in the third exhibition game.

Leinart threw for 3,893 yards with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions with Arizona.

REED OUT 6 WEEKS

Ravens star safety Ed Reed will miss the first six weeks after being placed on the reserve physically unable to perform list by Baltimore.

Reed underwent offseason hip surgery and did not practice during training camp or play in the preseason. A six-time Pro Bowl player, he missed four games in 2009 because of hip problems after playing every game from 2006-08.

BRADFORD TO START

No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford will start at quarterback for the Rams in the regular-season opener.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo announced the decision Saturday, saying Bradford had earned the job.

“We’re confident. The staff’s confident. The team’s confident,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s well deserved.”

Bradford won the 2008 Heisman Trophy when he was at Oklahoma. He signed a six-year, $78 million contract with $50 million in guaranteed money – the most in NFL history.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Saints All-Pro safety Darren Sharper will miss the first six games after being put on the physically unable to perform list after offseason microfracture knee surgery and projected starting linebacker Jonathan Casillas was put on season-ending injured reserve after hurting his foot in the exhibition season finale. … The Bengals got defensive back Reggie Nelson, the No. 21 overall pick in 2007 out of Florida, from Jacksonville for cornerback David Jones and a conditional draft pick. … The Broncos acquired tight end Dan Gronkowski from the Lions for cornerback Alphonso Smith. … The Raiders released former Washington Huskies defensive lineman Grayson Gunheim and ex-Seahawks tight end John Owens. … Baltimore cut quarterback Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner for Ohio State. … Justin Hartwig, the Steelers’ starting center the past two seasons, was cut after the team failed to work out a trade for him. … Quarterback Pat White was released by the Dolphins one year after they took him in the second round of the draft out of West Virginia. … The Bengals released receiver Matt Jones, who didn’t play in the NFL last year after Jacksonville released him because of off-field issues. Jones was the Jaguars’ first-round pick in 2005 but was arrested and charged with cocaine possession in 2008.

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