Cards' Stanton won't need surgery, could return this season

BY foxsports • December 12, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The way things have gone for the Cardinals on the injury front this season, Friday's news qualifies as good news. Quarterback Drew Stanton won't need surgery on his injured right knee, and the Cardinals are hopeful he will be back this season.

FOX Sports 910's Mike Jurecki reported Friday that Stanton has a sprained ACL and a Grade II MCL sprain. Arians would not confirm the nature of the injury.

"I'm not real good with those injury terms," Arians said. "He's got a knee."

Stanton is wearing a brace and is on crutches already. He is listed as week to week, and the Cardinals have 10 days before they play Seattle on Dec. 21 at University of Phoenix Stadium, so it's possible he won't miss any time.

But if both ligaments are sprained, he could also sidelined for the final two games of the regular season. There is also this to consider: The right knee is the same one Stanton has injured twice before, in 2003 as a collegiate player at Michigan State, then in 2007, his rookie NFL season. He spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve.

When asked if he'd be surprised if Stanton played against the Seahawks, Arians said: "I wouldn't put it past him, but I would be surprised." 

If Stanton can't play in the team's final two regular-season games, the Cardinals would hope he could return for the playoffs, which makes the Seahawks game all the more meaningful. With a win, the Cardinals would clinch the NFC West title and a bye in the first round of the playoffs, giving Stanton and a whole lot of other banged-up players an extra week of rest. If they lose, they'd likely go on the road as a wild-card team on the first weekend of the playoffs.

To win the division, however, the Cardinals would need to beat the surging Seahawks with Ryan Lindley or Logan Thomas at quarterback. Despite the fact that Lindley replaced Stanton in Thursday's win in St. Louis, Arians said he would wait to name a starter for Seattle until he has more time to sit down with the two players and evaluate.

"It's just a matter of having him comfortable," Arians said of his choice of quarterback. "Whether it's 10 plays or 50 plays, the menu doesn't have to be large as long as he understand where the ball should go and why it should go there.

"It could be a very short menu of 10 plays that might have four formations that could add up to 40, or it could be a list of plays that they're comfortable with. You don't want them going into the game not comfortable -- making sure they can handle all the dogs and blitzes, that's main thing: Know your protections." 

If Stanton does miss time, the Cardinals would be the third team in the last 10 seasons to win 11-plus games in a season while starting three different QBs, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Stanton left in the third quarter of Thursday's 12-6 win over the Rams when he planted his right leg as Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald grabbed him, adding more weight to the leg. Stanton was eventually carted off and Lindley finished the game, leading the Cardinals to a pair of field goals.

Lindley completed 4 of 10 passes for 30 yards. It was his first action since Dec. 23, 2012, against the Bears when Ken Whisenhunt was the Cardinals coach. Lindley's career passer rating is 46.8.

The Cardinals re-signed Lindley on Nov. 11 off the Chargers practice squad after starter Carson Palmer went on season-ending injured reserve with a torn ACL, also suffered against the Rams. Thomas was the team's fourth-round pick this year.

When asked why he chose Lindley over rookie Thomas, who beat out Lindley in training camp, Arians said Thomas would have seen things he had never seen, but he knew Lindley would handle "that part of it" better.

There is also this reality: Lindley won't be back with the team next season after Palmer and Stanton are healthy. Thomas is, for now, part of the future. Why ruin his confidence in a situation where he has a limited chance of success.

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