Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert throws a pass during a recent training camp practice.
CANTON, Ohio – Seven for seven. An excellent ratio if you're a quarterback talking pass completions. If you are a quarterback talking offensive coordinators/offensive systems compared to your years in the NFL, not so much.
But that's what Blaine Gabbert has endured, a constant churning of coaching styles and verbiage. Whether the Cardinals and Bruce Arians can provide a lucky No. 7 for the former top 10 draft pick, that's an unknown, although Gabbert would love to see it happen.
"Consistency in football is the name of the game," Gabbert said. "Being able to be in one system for an extended
period of time, where you can really start mastering it and focus on the fine print of it, that helps anybody."
Gabbert came into training camp with six weeks and five games to prove he's worth keeping around, even if the Cardinals might want to keep long-time backup Drew Stanton behind Carson Palmer. Gabbert's first real chance comes Thursday, when the Cards play the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game with both Palmer and Stanton sitting out.
Gabbert will start and play the first half, with undrafted rookie Trevor Knight getting the second half at quarterback.
"You want to see him with live bullets," Arians said. "I see the talent in practice. Games are different. A different secondary, a different front, how you react to it, how you put all those pieces together."
Gabbert's potential challenge to Stanton's No. 2 spot has generated speculation since Gabbert signed in May, but unseating Stanton remains a long-shot. Instead, Gabbert's biggest battle may be with the roster, and Arians' preference to keep two quarterbacks. With Palmer's future landing year to year (and with Stanton's contract up after the season), the possibility of keeping Gabbert more for 2018 than 2017 remains real.
In a career that hasn't produced many wins with the Jaguars and 49ers, Gabbert is intelligent, has a strong arm
and is more athletic than Palmer or Stanton. But that must translate to the field, where Gabbert's ability to work the passing game down the field – Arians' favorite thing to do – hasn't always been apparent.
"We liked Blaine coming out (of college in 2011), Coach liked Blaine," Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said. "The question is, why hasn't he had the sustained success like a lot of guys drafted in the top 10? I don't have those answers because I haven't spent enough time with them.
"I guess my mindset has always been, if you don't get up and swing, you're never going to hit the ball. If you are questioning, 'Why would you take that chance? What do you see in him?' He's a guy who has the tools. And the confidence we have in this coaching staff, particularly with the guys who work with the quarterbacks, if he's not going to do it here, he's not going to do it anywhere. Why not take that chance?"
The Cardinals are still searching for their post-Palmer QB. The draft has yet to yield anyone. The potential 2018 free-agent class is somewhat intriguing, at least moreso than normal.
But maybe Gabbert can find something under Arians he hasn't been able to find previously. Stability would seem to help. As rocky as his career has been, Gabbert said he has no reason to be bitter about his circumstances.
"It may seem that way to some of the outsiders but football is such a wonderful game," Gabbert said. "It's so fun just to play the game. Being bitter about any cards you've been dealt, that's not going to do you any good."
Images from the ninth day of Cardinals training camp