Stanton injury could open door for Gabbert with Cardinals
PHOENIX — A knee injury to quarterback Drew Stanton could clear the way for Blaine Gabbert to make his debut for the Arizona Cardinals.
Stanton sprained a knee early in Thursday night’s 22-16 loss to Seattle. He gutted it out the rest of the game but it’s not known whether he will be able to go on Sunday against the Texans in Houston.
After four days off, the Cardinals regrouped Tuesday and coach Bruce Arians wasn’t forthcoming about Stanton’s status, except to say that he practiced. Whether he was limited wasn’t known because no injury report is required until Wednesday.
Arians, who has been with Stanton for six seasons, said the quarterback’s toughness is “at the top of the chart.”
“This isn’t the first time I’ve seen him gut it up like that,” Arians said. “But, yeah, he’s off the charts. That’s why his teammates love him.”
Arians said the knee problem affected Stanton “on two or three throws. The one to John Brown, especially, it gave out on him. That is the one that we’d all like to have back. There was maybe one or two others.”
Stanton has started two games since Carson Palmer was lost for the season with a broken left arm, a win at San Francisco and a loss to the Seahawks. He is 7-4 as a starter in his five seasons with Arizona.
Gabbert was signed in the offseason. Immediate speculation was that he would battle Stanton for the backup quarterback spot. But Stanton, who is extremely close to Arians, had that job sewn up from the start and Gabbert was relegated to third string.
Last Thursday night was the first time this season that Gabbert was suited up for a game, serving as Stanton’s backup.
With Stanton’s uncertain status, the reps are increasing for Gabbert this week.
“He got a bunch last week, but he’ll get more this week,” Arians said. “We’ll try to get Matt (Barkley) something along the lines.”
The Cardinals signed Barkley on Monday to add another quarterback to the mix.
Barkley came to Arizona in a trade at the end of the 2015 preseason. He was with the team all season but never was active on game day. He was released by Arizona at the end of the 2016 preseason.
Barkley played in seven games for Chicago last season, six as a starter, completing 59 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He was with San Francisco this preseason but was released before the regular season began.
Arians was asked what a quarterback injured in a prior game has to show in practice in order to play the following week.
“Protect himself, number one, being able to get out of harm’s way, or you’re really going to get hurt,” the coach said. “He (Stanton) was able to do that in that ball game, and he moved around great. He was gutting it up, but he could stay out of harm’s way.
“I have had guys with legs that were in damn near casts, playing the pistol the whole game, all the way back to Todd Jordan at Mississippi State, Ben (Roethlisberger). They could throw it, and you made sure they threw it away, that they didn’t get hit.”
Gabbert, a former first-round draft pick, has a 9-31 record in 40 career starts in his previous six seasons with Jacksonville and San Francisco.
The extra reps are helping Gabbert “a bunch,” Arians said.
“Drew knows so much, he could let Blaine have a bunch,” he said. “That part has really helped his progression, especially in blitz drills.”
Arians was asked about Gabbert’s comfort level with the Arizona offense.
“I think he’s real comfortable,” Arians said. “I’m very comfortable. If he’s our guy, then I’m extremely comfortable.”
Notes: Arizona elevated safety Harlan Miller from the practice squad to the active roster. … As expected, the Cardinals placed LT D.J. Humphries (knee), S Tyvon Branch (knee) and TE Ifeanyi Momah (ankle) on injured reserve.