JaMarcus Russell's starting job is assured even after an inconsistent preseason performance. That might not be the case with Matt Leinart.
Leinart threw three interceptions in less than two quarters before the Arizona Cardinals offense opened things up in the second half of a 24-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Saturday night.
Leinart entered the game with the lead over Kurt Warner in the competition for the Cardinals starting job. Coach Ken Whisenhunt may have to rethink that following this performance by Leinart.
Leinart's first pass of the night was a deep one to Larry Fitzgerald that floated up long enough for safety Michael Huff to pick it off.
The performance didn't get much better after that. Leinart led the Cardinals on a field goal drive midway through the first quarter, but that was it as far as positives go.
On a rollout in the second quarter, Leinart stared right at cornerback Stanford Routt and then threw it his way for the second interception. His final pass was a floater to Anquan Boldin that backup Rashad Baker intercepted.
Leinart finished the game with only one more completion to his receivers than he had to Raiders defenders, going 4-for-12 for 24 yards.
The Cardinals offense got going in the second half, scoring on a 14-yard run by rookie Tim Hightower and a 67-yard run by J.J. Arrington on the first two possessions of the third quarter. Brian St. Pierre added an 18-yard touchdown pass to Leonard Pope in the fourth quarter.
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said he wanted to let Russell air it out a bit in the final real test before the regular season opener against Denver on Sept. 8.
Russell completed four straight passes to open the game as Oakland came out in a shotgun formation with no running backs. But things did not come nearly as easily after that, and he finished 14-for-28 for 140 yards and an interception. Russell was sacked four times.
The second drive ended when Russell underthrew an open Ronald Curry on a rollout and linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted the pass for Russell's first turnover of the preseason.
On the next drive, the Raiders simulated a 2-minute drill by going without a huddle, but went three-and-out when Russell missed Zach Miller on third down.
The Raiders were unable to capitalize on Leinart's two second-quarter interceptions that set them up inside the Arizona 30. Oakland turned it over on downs and Aaron Elling hit the upright on a 26-yard field goal attempt.
Russell played the entire third quarter but still couldn't generate any points. His night ended when he badly overthrew Chaz Schilens on third down, leading to boos from the home crowd.
The one bright spot offensively for Oakland was the play of Javon Walker, who had four catches for 60 yards. Walker, who got a $55 million contract in the offseason, had struggled for much of the preseason and had been harshly criticized by Kiffin.
Rookie Darren McFadden got the bulk of the running duties for Oakland, but finished with just 40 yards on 12 carries and dropped a pass that was originally ruled a fumble before being overruled by replay.
Notes:@ Oakland WR Drew Carter and FB Oren O'Neal left in the first quarter with undisclosed injuries. ... Warner attempted just four passes, completing two for 40 yards. ... There was a video tribute and moment of silence for Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw, who died Wednesday. Upshaw won two Super Bowls with the Raiders and later became head of the players' union.