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Falcons See Lindley's First Snaps

Posted Nov 18, 2012

Rookie sixth-round QB takes over for Skelton

Rookie Ryan Lindley calls for a change of play at the line of scrimmage during Sunday's 23-19 loss to the Falcons.

ATLANTA – The buzz began on TV.

Fox’s cameras noticed Ryan Lindley warming up on the Cardinals’ sideline wearing his helmet. It’s typical for Lindley to throw a few passes to stay loose in case his number gets called. But then the cameras showed starting quarterback John Skelton, stone faced with his baseball cap on.

Then the buzz went into overdrive.

On the Cardinals’ first possession of the second quarter, Lindley, a rookie out of San Diego State, took the field in place of Skelton, who was 2-of-7 passing for six yards before being benched. Lindley, who had not played a snap this season, inherited a 13-0 lead but couldn’t orchestrate a touchdown in a 23-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

“I was excited,” Lindley said. “I think (in) the first half I was just really geeked up, ready to go. And I think rushed a lot of decision in the first half. I was little too excited. In the second half I went out there, I felt more calm, I felt I made better decisions. I still missed on a few.

“There’s room for improvement for sure.”

It was the first game action for Lindley since the final preseason game, when he played all but a handful of snaps against the Denver Broncos’ reserves. And it showed. The chemistry wasn’t quite there, the timing between quarterback and receiver was just a second off. He faces the Cardinals’ starting defense in practice, but it’s not at the speed Lindley experienced Sunday.

“It’s the guys you face in the preseason just a little faster, a little more skilled, just a little quicker but besides that I got a taste of it early and it’s a learning experience for sure,” Lindley said.

Lindley finished with 64 yards on 9-of-20 passing, and looked like a rookie playing his first NFL snaps.

He was early on a few passes. But Lindley was able to read the pocket, step up and avoid the rush when needed despite being sacked three times. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t ready to decide where on the grading scale Lindley’s debut fell.

“You know what, it is hard to say,” Whisenhunt said. “I thought he did a nice job that’s a tough situation with the noise and trying to handle some of the things they do defensively that is one of the things we have to make a decision on and not just how I feel.”

During the Cardinals’ bye week, Whisenhunt said changes were coming and he didn’t wait long to make a switch Sunday, playing the Cardinals’ third quarterback of the season. Whisenhunt said he decided to remove Skelton after Skelton missed an open Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone on a pass.

“When coach says something like that, I don’t think anyone’s exempt,” Skelton said. “I don’t think anyone is not going to be subject to that type of scrutiny. It is what it is.

“I’m all right. It part of the game. Getting benched is part of the game. It’s frustrating to not being able to be out there and fight for the rest of the game. But I can’t do anything about it.”

Although the offense struggled equally under both quarterbacks, the rookie earned praise from his offensive line for managing the huddle.

Center Lyle Sendlein was impressed with Lindley’s ability to relay the play to the offense in his first game. And the Cardinals didn’t have a delay of game or false start penalty under Lindley, two signs that he was able to command the line of scrimmage without hesitation.  

Lindley admitted there’s work to be done, said he struggled in the two-minute drill at the end of the first half and missed Andre Roberts on the first play of the Cardinals’ last drive. There might be other plays Lindley would like back after he reviews the film on Monday, but he walked out of the Georgia Dome confident he could play in this league. It’s just a matter of making better decisions.

Sitting at his locker during halftime, Lindley said his heart was still racing. He was still floating on the high of having played in his first NFL game. But it was time to calm down.

“Some of these guys said, ‘Let it loose and have some fun,’” Lindley said. “I was having fun the whole time but I have to get it going a little quicker next time.”

 

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