Quarterback Logan Thomas talks with coach Bruce Arians during a recent OTA.
Logan Thomas believes he is progressing, which if nothing else is what has to happen for a quarterback in the summer when pads aren't part of the football equation.
"Like anybody, I'd want it to all fall in place at once," Thomas said. "But I will keep my head down and keep working."
The Cardinals know their top end of the quarterback depth chart. Carson Palmer is the starter, his rebuilt knee coming along well. Drew Stanton is the unquestioned No. 2. So it is Thomas' spot as the No. 3 that lends itself to the drama of a camp battle, even with his selection as a fourth-round draft pick barely a year old.
The story of Thomas is well known, because it came into play during his rookie season. Palmer got hurt twice, as did Stanton. The first injuries were not long-term, but enough that Thomas was forced into a forgettable showing in Denver early in the season. The second injuries for both forced coach Bruce Arians to make a choice, and the choice was to go to Ryan Lindley rather than spoil
Thomas' potential with struggles when he was not yet ready to play.
Thomas has gotten a lot of reps thus far in OTAs, but not all of the non-Palmer/Stanton reps. Chandler Harnish and rookie Phillip Sims – signed only after a tryout during rookie minicamp – have gotten their share. Thursday, after Thomas got the bulk of the non-Stanton work Wednesday, it was mostly Sims at the controls while Thomas watched.
Asked if any player had emerged for the third quarterback spot, Arians didn't hesitate. "No," he said.
Arians added Sims had done a "really good job" since arriving and that the battle had been "back and forth."
"You want to keep the reps fairly equal," Arians said after it was noted Sims was in after Stanton Thursday. "Logan had a ton of them (Wednesday)."
Having five quarterbacks in play isn't the easiest situation, although it isn't shocking given that Palmer isn't taking part in 11-on-11 work because of his knee rehab. Plus, Arians has conducted two separate 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 practices during most of OTAs to make sure all players get enough work – which includes the quarterbacks.
"I don't feel reps have been an issue," Sims said. "When you get in, you have to produce. That's all anyone really cares about."
Thomas agreed, saying there have been plenty of reps to go around. Disappointed he didn't get a chance to play late last season – at one point, Arians said Thomas would start the season finale before changing course – Thomas remains optimistic about his current course.
"Coach has his plan and I'm sticking to his plan," Thomas said. "Whatever he wants, I'll do."
In some ways, the Cardinals' quest to find a third quarterback is more crucial than some situations. Stanton is an unrestricted free agent after the season and while he has settled into his backup role and sounds open to continuing it beyond this season, the Cards are seeking a young QB who could eventually take over for Palmer.
In the short term, the Cardinals only have to refer back to last November and December when their third quarterback – and as it turned out, their fourth – had a huge impact on the season.
Thomas would like to prove he can be the answer in both situations. That can't truly happen until training camp and preseason games, of course, when defenses can actually get physical and results matter carry a heavier impact. In the meantime, Thomas said, his confidence remains steady.
"With some good things that happen it goes up, with some bad things that happen it goes down," Thomas said. "You never get too far down in the dumps, and you never get too high."
Pictures from the final OTA of the 2015 offseason