The Cardinals’ marketing department already has made a call on who the team’s starting quarterback will be this season, with only Kurt Warner’s No. 13 jersey available to purchase in the new uniform style.
And the NFL itself seems to have made a similar determination, with the Cardinals playing the New York Giants and St. Louis — Warner’s two former teams — the first two weeks of the regular season.
In fact, after Warner signed his one-year contract worth $4 million, the general assumption was that Warner would start, with Josh McCown as the backup. But coach Dennis Green insists that decision hasn’t been made.
"We have a lot of things to do before we worry about the starting quarterback," Green said. "We don’t have any starters right now.
"At some point there will be a first-team guard, at some point a first-team tight end, and a first-team quarterback. Right now we don’t have to worry about that."
Offensive coordinator Keith Rowen said that after Friday’s minicamp practices, McCown and Warner were within "one or two" throws of each other in terms of practice reps. Generally, both have been shuffled in and out of first string.
"We both want to be the starter, no doubt about that," McCown said. "But I think it’s a great situation.
"I told my wife more than a couple times, coming home from a workout in which (Kurt and I) have spent time together, I really am glad he is here. People find that funny for me to say, but the type of man he is, type of person he is, he’s just fun to be around. I am going to get better out of this as a person and a player."
Rowen said the starter will be chosen based on grading the efficiency of plays, the completions and incompletions. But the imperfect scenario in which the competition will take place — with so many different offensive players on the roster coming in and out every practice play — makes it harder.
For example, Rowen said, three young receivers all ran poor routes Friday, leading to incompletions.
"You have to factor those aspects in when you evaluate quarterbacks," Rowen said.
Warner said he simply wants the best player to be on the field, and if he is not that player, he can deal with it. He also said he will help McCown where he can, because it isn’t in his nature to turn his back on a teammate even if it might hurt his chances to play.
After feeling he got the short shrift in St. Louis and New York the past two seasons, however, Warner wants a legitimate shot to play.
"The hard part is when it’s not a fair competition," Warner said. "That’s the thing you try to avoid, because you don’t want to be in a situation where it’s an uneven competition and you have to fight the battle uphill."
If anything, Warner has the obvious advantage, having signed a big contract. McCown, who is playing under a one-year, $1.43 million contract, declined to comment on that possibility.
McCown said he is optimistic no matter what happens.
"I’ve only been in the league three years, so it’s not like I am on my last legs at all," McCown said. "I am not at all bitter. Just the team environment in general, there is a buzz that we will be better. It’s exciting to be part of that."
Asked if there was a time frame to name the quarterback, Rowen was blunt.
"It’s Coach Green’s decision," Rowen said. "Kurt has always been a great player in the league. Josh is a very talented young player. We will keep evaluating them and let the chips fall where they may."