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A Chance To Play For Matt Barkley

Posted Aug 11, 2016

Notes: QB battles Coker for possible roster spot; Watford's value; Goodwin as play-caller

Cardinals quarterback Matt Barkley will appear in a game for the team for the first time Friday night.

It’s been a while since Matt Barkley has played in a football game.

That came last September, for the Eagles in their preseason finale, when he struggled in a battle with Tim Tebow (neither claimed a roster spot.) Soon after, he was traded to the Cardinals for a seventh-round pick, and Friday, he’ll get the majority of the snaps for the Cards against the Raiders in the 2016 preseason opener.

“I really cannot wait,” Barkley said. “The ‘move the ball’ periods we have in practice are my favorite, because it gets you in a rhythm. Gives you that first-, second-, third-down feel. I’m excited to get back to that, put some drives together, put the ball in the end zone, and show the coaches we can move the ball.”

Coach Bruce Arians said the starters are expected to go 10 or 12 plays, including quarterback Carson Palmer. Backup Drew Stanton isn’t supposed to play much either. Barkley will be the main QB, with rookie Jake Coker – battling Barkley for a potential third spot on the roster – finishing up.

Coker has struggled himself much of the offseason. But Barkley has yet to distinguish himself, with Arians calling his play “up and down. Like a yo-yo.”

Asked if it was about Barkley’s reads or decision making, Arians responded, “All of the above.”

The Cards could very well go with Palmer and Stanton as the only quarterbacks on the roster, adding a third to the practice squad. Barkley hopes he can show otherwise.

“I don’t have an answer to what to prove or what the coaches want to see,” Barkley said. “But if they see I am moving the ball and getting completions – what a quarterback should do – that should be good.”

WATFORD’S VALUE

When Earl Watford was drafted in 2013, the hope was that he and fellow draft pick Jonathan Cooper would become the team’s two starting guards for many years to come. It didn’t work out that way.

Cooper has since been traded to the Patriots. Watford too saw his chances slipping away – until he morphed his game toward versatility. He not only played guard, but worked to become the starting right tackle last year when rookie D.J. Humphries couldn’t during Bobby Massie’s suspension. Then this summer, Watford worked hard to learn center, and during OTAs he worked at all five positions on the offensive line.

That’s what made his knee injury this week an issue. Arians said Watford hopefully will only miss a couple of weeks, but Watford – if healthy – seems to have locked up a roster spot simply because of his ability on game days to back up every spot.

“Nobody is at the level (as a backup lineman) that Earl is at,” Arians said of his roster. “His value sometimes is higher than a starter. When you can play five positions as a backup, you’ll play a long time in this league.”

GOODWIN AS PLAY-CALLER

For a second straight preseason, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin will call plays for three games, including against the Raiders.

“(Bruce) told me earlier this week, ‘Be yourself, call what you want, don’t mind me,’ ” Goodwin said. “But it’s hard not to mind your boss when he’s looking at you.”

Goodwin, also the main offensive line coach, called that unit a “work in progress.”

“We won’t know what we have there until we play real ball,” Goodwin said. “But we are trending in the right direction.”

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