Drew Brees and Matt Leinart started the preseason with near-perfection.
Brees was 6-for-7 for 40 yards and a touchdown in his lone series in the short-handed New Orleans Saints' 24-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. Saints backup Mark Brunell was equally effective, completing 10 of 12 for 119 yards.
Leinart, the third-year Arizona quarterback who missed the final 11 games last season due to a broken collarbone, completed eight of nine passes for 91 yards in the first two series of the game.
Leinart said his offseason work paid off.
"The biggest thing is when you know your reads and know where you are going with the ball, the footwork comes naturally and is easier," Leinart said. "I did work on it this summer and I just have to keep getting better. It was a good start but we just have to keep working."
Second-year Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt liked what he saw from his young quarterback.
"He was accurate, in control," Whisenhunt said. "He looked smooth in the pocket and his footwork was good. I was impressed with his overall play."
Nine Saints regulars didn't make the trip because of various minor injuries. Among them were starting tight end Jeremy Shockey and starting wide receivers Marques Colston and Devery Henderson. Running back Deuce McAllister also stayed home.
Still, New Orleans took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in 13 plays. Brees lofted a 7-yard toss over the middle to David Patten for the score.
The Cardinals, the most penalized team in the NFL last season with 137, committed three on the drive, including a 15-yard face mask infraction by Darnell Dockett on the first play from scrimmage. Overall, Arizona was penalized eight times for 70 yards.
Arizona tied it 7-7 on its second possession. Leinart connected with speedy second-year receiver-kick returner Steve Breaston for 34 yards on the final play of the first quarter.
That helped set up a 1-yard scoring run by rookie Tim Hightower.
Whisenhunt chose not to play Warner, the former NFL and Super Bowl MVP who threw for 3,417 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Cardinals last season. Instead, he went with third-stringer Brian St. Pierre.
Whisenhunt said he didn't want Warner to be restricted to just a few plays behind the starting offensive line.
Brunell had one of the most impressive plays of the night, a 49-yard pass into the arms of Robert Meachem at the Arizona 3 late in the second half.
New Orleans reserves outscored their Cardinals counterparts 17-0 in the second half. Arizona missed three tackles in a 60-yard touchdown pass play from Tyler Palko to Meachem.
Notes:@ The Cardinals were without wide receivers Anquan Boldin and rookie Early Doucet because of hamstring injuries. ... Breaston is contending for the third receiver slot behind Larry Fitzgerald and Boldin. ... The Saints' Mark Campbell was helped from the field after a hard hit from Arizona first-round pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie following a 16-yard catch in the third quarter.