Ryan Lindley, who came in in relief of the injured Drew Stanton in St. Louis, will start at quarterback against the Seahawks.
Back in training camp, Bruce Arians struggled with the idea of cutting Ryan Lindley. He kept Lindley as his third-string quarterback in 2013 because he saw potential – and it was the large potential of rookie Logan Thomas that ultimately cost Lindley a spot on the Cards.
Lindley was eventually brought back when Carson Palmer was lost for the season. And now, he's not surprisingly moved ahead of Thomas on the depth chart, the newest starting quarterback for the Cardinals as they head into one of the most important regular-season games since the team moved to Arizona.
Arians made that announcement Monday, a week away from the Cards' showdown against the Seahawks on "Sunday Night Football." It's not ideal, with Palmer done and backup Drew Stanton out for now with a knee injury. But the head coach has never started a quarterback he wouldn't support, and that was the message he delivered to Lindley at the outset of the biggest week of his career.
"Go sling it, baby," Arians told Lindley. "Go have fun. You're here for a reason. You're only on this team because you're talented enough to be here. You have everything it takes to win the game."
Lindley was not available to the media Monday. He is expected to talk Wednesday.
Arians estimated Stanton would miss between two and four weeks, but added that it was difficult to know. Stanton did ride the stationary bike during the open portion of practice, and while he wore a brace, seemed to walk OK considering his injury was just five days old.
"Everybody's so different in how they heal," Arians said. "So much of it's your makeup mentally – how bad do you want to heal? And he wants to heal up fast. We'll see."
It isn't Lindley's first start, of course. He had four starts as a rookie in the Cardinals' lost season of 2012 under coach Ken Whisenhunt, and Lindley did not play well. In those four starts, Lindley only completed 72-of-134 passes (54 percent) for 629 yards, no touchdowns, seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 44.7.
"I took a lot of bumps, took a lot of lumps in 2012," Lindley said after the Cardinals' win in St. Louis Thursday night.
Yet when Arians arrived, he kept Lindley around, and Lindley spent last season learning under Palmer and Stanton. He impressed Arians enough that he was the guy the Cards turned to when Palmer was lost. The Cardinals signed him off the Chargers' practice squad.
"You've got to tell yourself, 'Ball is ball,' " Lindley said. "That was the biggest thing I learned from 2012 is remain confident and just remember it's football at the end of the day."
Arians said there will be a package of plays installed for Thomas for this game as well, which the Cardinals also have done earlier this season for Thomas. It doesn't guarantee Thomas – who played through a rough stretch in Denver when Stanton was concussed earlier in the year – will play, but there is a chance.
Arians said Lindley's experience simply made him the better choice to start at this point.
"Logan's going to be a great player," Arians said. "Sometimes you can put guys in positions to fail. I want him to succeed when he plays. He didn't have that opportunity in Denver, although he did some good things."
Thomas acknowledged he was "a little disappointed" he wasn't the one to go in the game in St. Louis when Stanton got hurt. He thought he was, until the moment came and he was held back in favor of Lindley.
"I couldn't really get upset at it," Thomas said. "Just had to roll with the punches. I've always told these guys I'm a team player, and whatever happens, happens. Obviously I would've loved to have that opportunity. I also understand it at the same time."
How the Cardinals game-plan with Lindley won't be known until Sunday night, although Arians said the important thing was to make Lindley "comfortable." Lindley did win one of his starts in 2012, when the Cardinals battered the Lions, 38-10, at University of Phoenix Stadium in a game dominated by Beanie Wells running the ball and the defense.
In that game, Lindley completed 14-of-21 passes for only 104 yards, and one interception. That the Cards will need a productive day running the ball and excellent defense against the Seahawks probably doesn't even need to be said.
"The big thing is we don't want him to feel like he has to do it all himself or be Aaron Rodgers," linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. "Just manage the team and let the team help you win the game."
Wide receiver John Brown shrugged off yet another quarterback change, noting that the Cardinals wouldn't have brought Lindley back if there wasn't belief in him and "whatever way it goes, we're going to find a way to win."
That's what Arians has been pushing all season, regardless of his quarterback.
"The only ones that need to believe is that locker room, and they believe it," Arians said. "They saw it on the practice field (Monday), and they'll see it all week.
"Like I said, it's easy to be written off. We've been written off all year. Write another check. It's easy. You never have to check your bank account, just keep writing checks. We like where we're at, and we like the guys who are playing for us, and (Ryan) is one of them."