Cardinals quarterback Matt Barkley throws a pass during Thursday's OTA.
Matt Barkley has been with the Cardinals for an entire regular season.
But the quarterback is just now learning what it means to direct a Bruce Arians offense, and the team is just starting the process of finding out what exactly they got in exchange for that seventh-round pick they sent to Philadelphia last September.
"Playing football again (this spring) felt like the first day of school because it was all new, but it felt so comfortable compared to where I was in the fall," Barkley said.
The search for Carson Palmer's eventual replacement is ongoing. Statistically, it's unlikely it'll come from this season's third-quarterback battle between Barkley and undrafted rookie Jake Coker. Last season's third quarterback competition between Logan Thomas and Phillip Sims didn't even produce a third quarterback – both were released, and then the Cards traded for Barkley.
Joining the team so late – the week the Cardinals got ready to play the Saints – left Barkley in a sort of limbo. By that time, the offense had been installed and game prep was paramount on a week-to-week basis. Working with a new quarterback wasn't tops on the priority list.
"I was just kind of listening," Barkley said. "I wasn't trying to hound anyone to teach me."
Only once during the season was Barkley given the chance to work within the Cardinals' own offense – that came during the bye week, when Arians gave the bulk of the practice work to the deep backups.
This offseason, and eventually training camp and the preseason games, Barkley gets his chance.
"Once you're in the season he (was) pretty much a scout team guy, running cards, but you can tell being out here from Phase 1 to Phase 2 to now, you can see him starting to mature in our system," offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said.
Last season wasn't completely lost for Barkley, the 2013 fourth-round draft pick of the Eagles who has completed 30 of 50 passes in his career
for 300 yards and four interceptions. He did get background on what Arians likes to run in his offense, what his tendencies are as a play-caller, how Palmer and backup Drew Stanton prepare. Those details inevitably will be a help, and provide an advantage over Coker.
To run the offense himself this summer, however, "there was giddiness, no doubt," Barkley said.
"He came from coach (Chip) Kelly's system in Philly and there isn't a whole lot you need to know, other than look at the card and throw the ball," Goodwin said. "We're a little bit more complicated in our offense."
Barkley – and Coker, for that matter – benefits from the Cardinals' use of two fields during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 work during OTAs. Assistant head coach Tom Moore is the guru overseeing the two young QBs as they learn the system. There are plenty of reps to be had.
Last season, the Cardinals couldn't make many judgments on Barkley given what he couldn't really do, but now, "I definitely think whatever happens over there can make or break you," Barkley said.
"When I left after the season, Coach Arians told me 'You either get exposed or get exposure,' " Barkley added. "Whether that's on Field 1 or Field 2, I think that applies."
The Cardinals finish up their work on the field for the week