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QB Stability Long Gone, Drew Stanton Returns

Posted Dec 20, 2017

Veteran returns to lineup hoping to snap Cardinals' touchdown drought

The Cardinals have started three quarterbacks this season: Blaine Gabbert (7), Carson Palmer (3) and Drew Stanton (5). Here they are pictured at a practice in London -- at the point when Palmer had been the only starting QB.

Drew Stanton was surprised he was brought back as the Cardinals’ starting quarterback.

“I’ve been in this business for a long period of time, and I’ve been fortunate to survive for 11 years and see the whole picture,” he said Wednesday. “I understand the reason to stick with Blaine (Gabbert).”

But Bruce Arians decided Gabbert shouldn’t be the choice against the Giants Sunday, as the season winds down and the Cardinals head into an offseason with questions about quarterback for 2018 and beyond.

That they are facing a team that is in a similar situation is coincidental. The Giants have had Eli Manning as their starting quarterback since midway through the 2004 season – save for one game a couple of weeks ago, in a benching that ultimately cost coach Ben McAdoo his job – but if they keep the second-overall pick, taking a quarterback almost seems foregone.

As the Giants have lived, and as the Cardinals have fought through in 2017, quarterback stability just means so much.

“That’s the greatest feeling in the world for a coach, when your quarterback is there every week,” Arians said. “No matter who else goes down, they can lead the ship.”

The Cardinals had Carson Palmer for seven games, Stanton for two, before injuries sidelined both. Gabbert had the past five starts while Stanton’s knee injury healed – Arians still won’t completely close the door on Palmer’s return for the season finale, but Palmer isn’t even practicing – before Stanton comes back this week.

[READ: CARDINALS WILL NEED HARD LOOK AT RECEIVING CORPS]

Stanton in theory had been healthy enough to play the last couple of games, but Arians kept Gabbert in. The Cardinals have not scored a touchdown for the last two games, plus the final two quarters of the game before that. It’s a drought that all but forced a move.

“We were so close to winning that football game and (if we did) maybe we’re not having this discussion,” Stanton admitted.

“The competitor in me loves the fact I get to go out and do it again. At the same time the humanistic side of things, you feel bad for someone you have been around this period of time in Blaine and he’s just handled it unbelievably well. That’s no surprise to me.”

In Stanton’s two starts this season, the Cards went 1-1. He completed 51 percent of his passes for 474 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 77.5 passer rating. Coincidentally, Stanton was the Cardinals’ starter the last time these teams met – in 2014 in New York – after Palmer was a surprise scratch. The Cardinals beat the Giants and Manning, 25-14.

“He’ll know how to run the offense,” Manning told New York reporters Wednesday.

Stanton wouldn’t mind a return to the lineup like Manning has forged since his benching. After his consecutive games streak of 210 starts was ended, Manning has four touchdown passes and 662 yards in two games.

“I can’t compare myself to Eli,” said Stanton, who has known Manning since college. “That wouldn’t be fair to Eli. He went through an extremely difficult situation and handled it with the utmost class, which isn’t a surprise to me by any stretch of the imagination.”

Stanton does give Arians peace of mind when it comes to the offense, however. The coach told a story about practice Wednesday and a motion/shift situation that was messed up three times by a player who just hasn’t been around long this season. Arians admitted he had to have some patience, and that Stanton’s presence would help “get it straightened out.”

“I’ve been called upon to play this week and I’ll do whatever I can to help this team,” Stanton said.

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