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Coach compares QB to Culpepper

TEMPE, Ariz. -- New Arizona coach Dennis Green is so certain
that Josh McCown is his starter that he is downplaying the prospect
that the Cardinals will draft a quarterback with their No. 3 pick.

Other returning Cardinals apparently have some proving to do
before they keep their jobs, though, Green indicated on Wednesday.

His list of players assured first-string status was a short one:
McCown, wide receiver Anquan Boldin, linebackers Ronald McKinnon
and Raynoch Thompson, and center Pete Kendall.

"Now, I'm sure there are some more, and if the other guys get
upset about it, they can call me," Green said. "But I'm saying
based on what I've seen I would pencil those guys in as starters.
The rest of the guys maybe after a couple of days would, too."

Conspicuous by their absence were guard Leonard Davis, tackles
L.J. Shelton and Anthony Clement, safety Dexter Jackson, tight end
Freddie Jones and running back Marcel Shipp.

The Cardinals cut Jeff Blake last week and Green embraced McCown
not only as this year's starter but as a potentially great
quarterback in the mold of Daunte Culpepper.

The coach went so far as to tell the East Valley Tribune on
Tuesday that chances were slim the team would pick a quarterback at
No. 3, even if Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger was available.

Green wouldn't go that far in a wide-ranging session with
reporters on Wednesday.

"I'm not going to repeat what I said yesterday because that was
a different interview," he said. "What I said is I don't want the
players thinking that somebody outside of here is going to come in
and win games for this program. I don't see it happening."

McCown, a third-round draft pick out of Sam Houston State in
2002, hardly played at all until starting the final three games of
last season. He impressed teammates and coaches with his toughness,
mobility and strong arm, but didn't expect Green to go so public
with his support so soon.

"Obviously it's given me a ton of confidence," McCown said.

McCown is best known for his final pass of the season, a
perfectly thrown 28-yarder to Nate Poole as the game ended to beat
Minnesota and knock the Vikings out of the playoffs.

"Before that, I don't think anybody knew me," McCown said
Wednesday from his home. "I hadn't made that one play, who knows,
I might not be talking to you about all this right now."

Green repeatedly has said that McCown's size (6-feet, 4-inches),
speed, mobility, arm strength and competitiveness all remind him of
Culpepper, his last quarterback in Minnesota.

"The advantage he has over Daunte is Daunte was coming out of
college and Josh is in his third year," Green said. "He's not a
baby. He is a third-year player."

McCown relishes the responsibility.

"I can't remember when I was this fired up about football," he
said. "My mind-set is that it doesn't matter who they draft. I
want to go take my team to the playoffs this year. I think I can do
that."

He said he and Green hit it off right away.

"He shoots straight and he's going to command the type of
discipline our team needs," McCown said. "I could see he had a
passion to turn guys around. I also saw that he enjoyed working
with quarterbacks, so that definitely excites me."

Although he wouldn't name them, Green said there are eight
"blue-chip," can't-miss picks in this year's draft. Bet that one
of them is wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was a ball
boy for the Vikings when Green was coach.

But Green noted that Al Davis, whose Oakland Raiders have the
No. 2 pick, loves speed and receivers. As for the prospect of
trading down in the draft, Green said, "We're keeping all of our
options open."

McCown said he supported whatever draft decision the Cardinals
make, but he loved the idea of teaming Fitzgerald with NFL
offensive rookie of the year Boldin next season.

"Man," he said, "that would be excellent."