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Physical Chris Streveler Hoping Rookie Struggles Fuel Him To Roster Spot

Quarterback working off difficult season finale in 2020

Quarterback Chris Streveler runs upfield during the Cardinals' 19-16 preseason win over the Cowboys last week.
Quarterback Chris Streveler runs upfield during the Cardinals' 19-16 preseason win over the Cowboys last week.

Chris Streveler saw the middle of the field wide open, and took off on the third down quarterback draw, and 20 yards later, Cowboys cornerback Israel Mukuamu unfortunately found himself in the way.

The Cardinals' third-string quarterback lowered his shoulder and steamrolled Mukuamu, in what was probably the signature play of Streveler's style of play.

"That's the fun part of football, the physical contact. I like it," Streveler said Monday.

"I think it got the guys a little fired up."

This is who Streveler is, a runner as much as a passer at this point in his career (he led the Cardinals with 55 yards rushing on 10 carries, with 12-of-24 passing for 107 yards). He's the one delivering punishment with a frame that seems bigger than 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, and even absorbing it with joy.

"That's something I kind of embrace being part of the game," Streveler said. "I enjoy that feeling of being sore, especially after a win, it hurts a little less. I know it was just preseason but it was still an exciting game and exciting for guys like myself who are trying to make the roster."

Whether Streveler can make the roster is a question. Colt McCoy will be the backup. Streveler was in this same position in training camp last season, until the Cardinals got to the first game of the season and he – not Brett Hundley – was No. 2.

Streveler was an NFL rookie, having played two seasons in the Canadian Football League and not all the time was he even a starter. The move to backup with the Cards was a shock, but it didn't mean a lot. At least, not until the season finale, when Kyler Murray hurt his ankle and Hundley was inactive. In a game the Cardinals had to win to make the playoffs, Streveler struggled mightily against the Rams in Los Angeles, and even Murray's late return couldn't change the outcome in an 18-7 loss.

"I wouldn't say I beat myself up about it, but I would say I was critical of myself and hard on myself when I watched the tape and what I could've done better, situations that arose and how I could've handled them differently," Streveler said. "It just fueled me. A couple days after that game I was back in the facility working out just because I was anxious to get better after that performance."

Coach Kliff Kingsbury has said multiple times he thinks Streveler has a future as a quarterback. The Cards still signed McCoy – whose influence, both Streveler and Kingsbury said, will only help Streveler – and so this year's determination isn't depth chart position but whether he lands on the active roster or practice squad.

The Cowboys' finish, when Streveler led the Cards to a game-winning field goal drive, helped his argument.

"He's come a long way in a short time and you saw his competitiveness and he had a scrappy finish there to find a way to win a game," Kingsbury said. "We like what we see and we just think he'll get better and better."

If Streveler is just playing quarterback, it'll be tougher to justify a roster spot. If he can do other things, maybe that changes the equation. He didn't play any special teams snaps, but that is something he's practiced in the past. And during his CFL days, he was deployed not only as a QB, but also as a wide receiver and as a running back.

The Cowboys – and Mukuamu – can attest to his work as the latter.

"My answer to that is always going to be the same," Streveler said. "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help the team and to make the team and give myself the best chance to get on the field."

Images from Monday's training camp practice at State Farm Stadium.