Cardinal among those struggling but starting

Despite replacing Josh McCown at a key juncture in Sunday's game, Cardinals coach Dennis Green isn't ready yet to pull the plug on his young quarterback.

McCown, a third-year veteran, will remain Arizona's starter for this week's game against New Orleans.

In that regard, McCown isn't the only struggling starter to dodge a bullet this week.

Injuries to Rex Grossman of Chicago and Oakland's Rich Gannon will raise to four the number of quarterback switches precipitated by injuries. But barring the unexpected, the replacement of Jay Fiedler by A.J. Feeley in Miami at halftime of the Dolphins' season opener remains the lone change that can be attributed to lack of production.

Four ineffective starters -- Feeley, McCown, Carson Palmer of Cincinnati and San Diego's Drew Brees -- already have been apprised they will stay atop the depth chart for at least another week. Whether Ken Dorsey gets another start for San Francisco is dependent on Tim Rattay's physical status.

That the status of some currently unproductive starters remains status quo, however, is mildly surprising.

McCown fumbled three times in Sunday's 6-3 loss at Atlanta, failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities that could have led to a major upset, and was replaced by veteran Shaun King late in the game. Anointed as the Cardinals' starter early in the spring, McCown, who entered the season with just three career starts, did complete 20 of 29 passes for 198 yards, but Arizona ranks 30th in the NFL in total offense and has scored only two touchdowns in three games.

Green has made other changes -- he hired longtime associate Carl Hargrave last week as an offensive consultant and personally took over play-calling duties from coordinator Alex Wood -- but obviously isn't prepared yet to bench his starting quarterback. Green has a history of changing quarterbacks, as evidenced by his track record in Minnesota, but those switches typically came in the offseason.

"When he has time to throw and has people open," Green said of McCown, "he makes as good a throw as anybody in the league. We just have to make sure that he's protecting the ball, particularly in a hard-hitting game."

How long McCown retains the endorsement of his coach and the starting job remains to be seen. Part of the decision-making process might include the fact that Green, who eschewed opportunities to acquire more experienced quarterbacks in the offseason, definitely wants to develop a young passer and has few alternatives.

In Cincinnati, the Bengals haven't scored an offensive touchdown in two straight games and Palmer, the top pick in the '03 draft, owns the second-lowest passer rating (60.9) in the league. Cincinnati has gone 30 consecutive offensive possessions without a touchdown.

But don't look for coach Marvin Lewis, who elevated Palmer to No. 1 this spring even though Jon Kitna led the Bengals to an 8-8 record in 2003, to have a quick hook. The Bengals have considerable time and money invested in Palmer and, not surprisingly, Lewis is turning a deaf ear to the fans who are suggesting it's time to go back to Kitna.

"I share their disappointment, but we will not share their panic," said Lewis, whose team was a chic pick as an emerging contender but has started 1-2.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.