Blaine Gabbert will start at quarterback for the Cardinals Sunday.
Blaine Gabbert will be the third quarterback to start this season for the Cardinals.
Coach Bruce Arians made that official Friday, when he gave the nod to Gabbert after spending a week trying to see if Drew Stanton would be able to play with a right knee injury.
But it's also a sort of audition, for a player who will be a free agent at the end of the season and is trying to resurrect his chances to start somewhere.
"Playing is great," Gabbert said this week. "I got a chance to play a lot in the preseason. That's what we practice for, that's what we work so hard for, to go out and perform on Sunday. There is really no other feeling, I can't think of personally, than going out with your boys on the field in front of a big crowd and playing a great sport."
Arians said Stanton could still be the backup Sunday depending on how his knee feels pregame. If he cannot go, Matt Barkley will be the backup. The Cards will only dress two quarterbacks.
The Cards will be the first team to start three different quarterbacks this season. They did so back in 2014 with Carson Palmer, Stanton and Ryan Lindley. Gabbert got the majority of the first-team reps in practice this week.
Arians spent the week talking about how comfortable he is with Gabbert, more comfortable than any previous third-string QB he's ever had to play.
"I've always kind of seen him as a starter-in-waiting," Arians said.
That has trickled into the offense, which after the transition from Palmer to Stanton is used to having to mesh with a new quarterback.
"Same routes, same concepts," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "He had a whole offseason, training camp and had practice throughout the course of the year. I think he's comfortable and I
think we're comfortable with him."
Gabbert signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in May, and played well in the preseason, completing 61 percent of his passes – although he was also sacked nine times. He does bring an athletic element to the position more than Palmer or Stanton, with the ability to get outside the pocket and extend plays.
How much the Cardinals actually tailor the offense to that remains to be seen. Arians said the offense would likely look a lot like how they operate with Stanton.
"Me personally, I don't want the quarterback to have to move," offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. "I want him to be able to push the pocket or stand in the pocket and throw the ball. If he starts scrambling or running trying to buy time that makes me scared, because that's when the seriously vicious hits come."
Gabbert has started 40 games in his seven-year career, although only 16 since 2012, and all came with bad teams in Jacksonville and San Francisco. He is playing under his eighth head coach and seventh offensive coordinator, which "ain't a recipe for success," Arians said.
Maybe the Cardinals can provide a better path.
"This isn't a rookie," Arians said. "It's a big opportunity for him but he's been around the block a few times."
ADRIAN PETERSON GOES HOME
Adrian Peterson is originally from Palestine, Texas, about 150 miles from Houston, and Peterson lives in Houston in the offseason. This is a homecoming for him, getting about 30
tickets for friends and family – "I had to narrow it down" – and getting a chance to visit his house.
"Check in and get a 'W' on Sunday," Peterson said.
It will help, with Gabbert starting at QB, if Peterson can produce. The Cardinals stuck with the running game last week, but Peterson had just 29 yards on 21 attempts.
"It's always frustrating when you lose and as far as my performance, not playing to the caliber I play every week," Peterson said. "You have ups and downs. It's another week to get back on the right track."
In four games with the Cards, Peterson has rushed for 134 yards, 21 yards, 159 yards and 29 yards.
"If we stick to the track record, it should be a 100-yard game," Goodwin said. "We have to be more consistent. … There are runs there. We just have to give him a chance."
PETERS OUT, JOHN BROWN LIMITED
Defensive lineman Corey Peters (ankle) is out Sunday, but wide receiver John Brown (back) returned to practice on a limited basis and it one of four players questionable for the Cardinals. Brown joins Stanton, center A.Q. Shipley (shoulder) and right tackle John Wetzel (back).
For the Texans, linebacker Dylan Cole (hamstring), tackle Julian Davenport (shoulder) and wide receiver Will Fuller (ribs) are out. Running back Alfred Blue (hamstring), defensive end Joel Health (knee), center Greg Mancz (knee/chest) and wide receiver Chris Thompson (knee) are questionable.