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Matt Leinart benched for Saturday; could be done in Arizona

For the second time in three years, it looks like Ken Whisenhunt is giving up on Matt Leinart as a starting quarterback before the season even starts.

Whisenhunt announced that Derek Anderson will start Arizona’s preseason game this week against the Bears. The plan is for Leinart to come off the bench late in the second quarter and play into the second half.

Whisenhunt stressed the change wasn’t necessarily permanent, but it doesn’t take a genius to see this is now Anderson’s job to lose. The third preseason game is every team’s chance for a final “dress rehearsal” for the season.

As ESPN’s Mike Sando writes, “Whisenhunt would not demote his starting QB in third week of preseason if he thought that QB had earned the respect of the locker room.” It will be tough for Leinart to recover from this.

Leinart played only nine snaps last week, and now he’s not even starting. The only question left is where Leinart will remain with the team. (It looks like’s Mike Lombardi had great information here.) Whisenhunt is essentially giving up on Leinart, no matter how this move is spun in the short term.

It’s at this point we have to mention a tip sent us earlier today, warning us that Leinart was already told Anderson was already the starting quarterback. We didn’t feel confident passing it along at the time, but the tipster just earned some major points. So now we can’t ignore the second part of the email.

The source claimed that Leinart was told the Cardinals were working on a trade to Seattle, where Leinart and Pete Carroll could try to party like it was 2004. That’s certainly just a rumor for now, and sounds a little off the wall.

Then again, the idea of Derek Anderson opening the season as Arizona’s starter sounded off the wall just a week ago.