Arizona Cardinals: Drew Stanton

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Teams have less than a month to get their top 51 salaries under the 2015 salary cap, which has yet to be determined, by March 10, when the new league year begins.

The Arizona Cardinals top 51 salaries are currently worth $148.9 million, with four players -- Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell and Carson Palmer -- eating up 45.4 percent of that sum.

Over the next 11 days, the Cardinals’ salary-cap situation will be broken down here by position.

First up, quarterbacks:

Carson Palmer

Cap hit: $14.5 million

Final season under contract: 2017

Cash value: $10.5 million

Notes: Palmer is due a $9.5 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year.

Drew Stanton

Cap hit: $3.9 million

Final season under contract: 2015

Cash value: $3.2 million

Notes: Stanton is entering the final year of his contract.

Logan Thomas

Cap hit: $618,023

Final season under contract: 2017

Cash value: $510,000

Notes: Thomas will earn his lowest salary this season of his four-year rookie contract.

Currently no tsigned for 2015: Ryan Lindley
PHOENIX -- Drew Stanton is three weeks into a rehab program that’ll have him back on the field by mid-spring.

The Arizona Cardinals' backup quarterback is planning on returning from the right knee injury that sidelined him for the Arizona Cardinals’ last three games of last season by April. His 2014 season, in which he set career highs in passing yards, yards per attempt and touchdowns, ended in Week 15, when he hopped off the field during the Cardinals’ Thursday night game at St. Louis.

“I’ll be full strength by time we start offseason program,” Stanton said after signing autographs at Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day. “I don’t really need to do anything now so just kinda let my body rest to get away from the game a little bit, spend time with my family and get refreshed for next season.”

Stanton
The Cardinals can start their offseason program on April 20.

He’ll be working with Arizona’s team physical therapist Brett Fischer to regain the strength and movement in his right knee. Rehab has started slow but Stanton said “it feels a lot better.”

“I worked out with him last year in the offseason,” Stanton said. “Really like the program he has me on and just looking forward to getting back to full strength.”

Stanton said if the Cardinals had won their wild-card game at Carolina, he likely would have been ready to play the next weekend, but trying to play before then wasn’t a possibility.

“I was going to need at least another week to have a shot,” Stanton said. “That was my hope. So, I was trying to find ways to get ready to go, talking to the training staff and talking to guys (about) what I can be doing when we would get back from that flight from Carolina.

“It didn’t work out unfortunately, but it was a difficult situation the way everything ended. At the same time, I think that the building blocks are starting to fall into place for us."

With Arizona’s season not yet a month old, Stanton still hasn’t digested what he went through in 2014. It started in Week 2, when Stanton threw his first regular-season pass since 2010. He filled in for Cardinals starter Carson Palmer twice -- once when he dealt with a nerve injury in his shoulder in weeks 2-5 and again after Palmer suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 10.

Stanton finished 5-3 as a starter with career highs in passing yards (1,711), yards per attempt (7.1) and touchdowns (seven) before his season ended prematurely.

“I think probably as the offseason wears on a little bit you get a chance for it to set in,” he said. “It was a great season from a personal standpoint, but also from a team standpoint to get out there and do a really good job but not good enough.

“It leaves you wanting more, but also I think we’ve got a lot of really good pieces in place in this organization.”
With the Arizona Cardinals' loss in the playoffs still fresh in their memories, it’s time to review the 2014 season, while previewing 2015. Over the next 11 installments, I’ll look back, and then ahead, at every position for the Cardinals.

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsCarson Palmer was undefeated as a starting quarterback this season. Problem is, he only started six games.
2014 Review: This past season will be one that Bruce Arians won’t soon forget -- and it won’t be because he led the Cardinals to the playoffs. Injuries decimated the position all year, forcing him to play four quarterbacks -- even turning to backup Drew Stanton twice. The end result was starter Carson Palmer's value to the Cardinals increasing without him playing a down in 10 games. In two stints as the starter in place of Palmer, Stanton went 5-3 but kept the Cardinals' ship steered toward the playoffs. He finished the season as the Cardinals’ leading passer with 1,711 yards but Palmer was better when he was healthy. He went 6-0, threw for 1,626 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 62.9 percent of his passes. A nerve injury in his right throwing shoulder sidelined him for four weeks after the Monday night season opener. After returning to win five straight, he tore his left ACL and had season-ending surgery.

But if it wasn’t one injury, it was another. Stanton's injuries gave two quarterbacks an opportunity to play this season. Rookie Logan Thomas was baptized in Week 5 against Denver after Stanton left the game with a concussion. His only completion of the season was an 81-yard touchdown pass to running back Andre Ellington. After Stanton went down with a knee injury in Week 15 at St. Louis on Thursday Night Football, Ryan Lindley was inserted ahead of Thomas. Lindley struggled in his first start against Seattle, his streak of consecutive passes without a touchdown continued, setting an NFL record, which prompted Arians to declare Thomas as the Week 17 starter. Two days later, he changed course, going back to Lindley, who snapped his streak of passes without a touchdown on his 229th attempt. Lindley had one of the best first halves of the season for any Arizona quarterback in Week 17, but led the Cardinals offense to the fewest yards in playoff history the next week against Carolina in the wild-card game.

2015 Preview: With Palmer set to return in either June or July from ACL surgery and Stanton’s status for offseason workouts unknown, Thomas is expected to get enough reps during OTAs, minicamp and the start of training camp to help him learn Arians' complex offense. How he responds during the next seven months will determine will help the Cardinals determine whether Thomas is actually the franchise's future quarterback or if it’s time to move on before investing too much time and money into him. Another question the Cardinals will face this offseason will be whether or not to keep Lindley. He could be a solid training camp quarterback, but are there better options in May’s draft and in free agency? The Cardinals faced a unique situation last season: They saw how important a third -- and even fourth -- string quarterback can be. Will that influence their decision to keep Lindley? It might be close to the season by time Palmer is back to 100 percent, which could be an issue for the 35-year-old. And with Drew Stanton, who’ll be 31 by time training camp starts, recovering from his own knee injury, Arizona will need to figure out if Lindley's the future at backup. The Cardinals invested enough money into Palmer to keep him the starter for another season, should he return to form.
Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley Getty ImagesRyan Lindley, right, will start his third game after the Cardinals lost Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton to injuries.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- What Bruce Arians has done this season -- playing four quarterbacks and making it to the playoffs -- has been impressive, daunting and worthy of his second coach of the year award in three seasons.

It isn’t new to the Arizona Cardinals' head coach. But it’s not exactly old hat, either.

After years of working with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, Arians has been forced to play four different quarterbacks in one season twice in the past few seasons.

The other time was in 2010, when he was the offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The circumstances this season have been different, though.

The Steelers, coming off a 9-7 season, headed into 2010 knowing Roethlisberger would be suspended six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. (His ban was later reduced to four games.) Arians spent training camp that year pulling double duty. He was preparing Roethlisberger for the long haul while also getting Byron Leftwich ready to be the starter in Roethlisberger’s absence. The two split first-team reps while Dennis Dixon, then a third-year quarterback out of Oregon, was the third-stringer.

Veteran Charlie Batch was also in camp but wasn't getting many reps. Batch had been a Steeler since 2002, watching Arians move from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator. He knew Arians’ offense as well as anyone else on the roster, including Roethlisberger. Batch wanted a chance to show he was worthy of being considered for a roster spot.

“I kind of took it as, maybe since I know the offense, he has enough confidence in me. If something were to happen, I don’t need the reps,” Batch remembered. “I’m like, I need the reps to make sure I have an opportunity to make the team.”

He was given six reps in the Steelers’ first preseason game, didn’t play in the second and then played in the final 10 minutes of the all-important third preseason game, throwing a 7-yard touchdown to Antonio Brown with 7:11 left. Batch thought that touchdown was his last of the preseason -- that Leftwich, Roethlisberger’s replacement, would get the majority of reps in the preseason finale, followed by Dixon, his backup.

That plan changed early in the second quarter in the last preseason game when Leftwich sprained his left knee and left the game. With that, Dixon became the Steelers’ starter, and Batch, who had been the fourth-string quarterback all training camp, became the backup. Dixon finished the drive on which Leftwich got hurt, and Batch took over and finished the game.

[+] EnlargeBruce Arians and Ben Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Gene PuskarBruce Arians had to work with four quarterbacks in the starting lineup as offensive coordinator of the Steelers during their Super Bowl season in 2010.
Dixon’s starting role lasted about two weeks. At the beginning of the second quarter against Tennessee in Week 2, Dixon injured his left knee and left the game, sending Batch into the game without time to warm up, he remembered, and into the starting lineup for the next two games.

He went 2-1 before handing the Steelers back to Roethlisberger, who took them to the Super Bowl, which they lost to Green Bay.

When Batch took over, the offense had not changed much from when Roethlisberger was the starter.

“One thing about Bruce is the fact that what you get in training camp is the same thing you’re going to see in the course of a game,” Batch said. “He’s going to be aggressive in his play calling. You have to know the system. If he doesn’t trust that you know the system, you won’t be around.”

But if Arians does trust a quarterback, he’ll turn to him in a time of need. And there have been plenty of those in Arizona this season.

This season's Cardinals lost Palmer for three games after he suffered a nerve injury in his right shoulder during Week 1. He returned in Week 6, only to tear his ACL in Week 10. Drew Stanton, who was Palmer's backup, went down with a knee injury in Week 15.

Enter Ryan Lindley, who started the last two games of the regular season and will start Saturday’s wild-card game at Carolina. Thrown into the mix was rookie Logan Thomas, who played the final quarter and a half in Week 5 at Denver when Stanton suffered a concussion.

“The biggest thing with that situation is kind of the same thing here,” said Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who was an offensive assistant in Pittsburgh in 2010. “BA doesn’t change his philosophy. He wants to run it some, and he’s going to put the ball down the field. I think the biggest thing there, we had a great defense, kind of like we have here. Guys just bought into what we were doing. Everybody believed in the defense.

“That was a magical season because when you get situations like that, you got to have some things go your way. We’ve had that this season.”

The two major differences between 2010 and 2014? Pittsburgh got its starter back for the bulk of the season (Arizona did not), and Pittsburgh’s injuries all happened in the beginning of the season and Roethlisberger returned in Week 5.

“It’s sort of the same mindset here: It was just, we don’t care,” said Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote, who played for Pittsburgh from 2002 to 2008 and then from 2010 to '13. “With Drew, when he came in and went to New York and won, and we saw him beat San Francisco, we didn’t mind.

“With Lindley, we know he can throw the ball.”

Getting his backup quarterbacks ready to play has been as simple as Arians just keeping them prepared, Batch said. During practice, Arians has been known to begin quizzing his quarterbacks, asking them to recite progressions and identify protections.

With the exception of Thomas, whom Arians named the starter before he changed his mind a couple of days later leading into Week 17, Arizona’s backups have been ready to take the field at a moment’s notice.

“It’s been crazy,” Lindley said. “There is no way to think of it, just to be thankful, not only with this game but with the opportunity I find myself in right now. It’s such a blessing from God. Starting off, not really knowing how much longer I get to be in the National Football League in September, to be honest. It’s been a journey, but I’m excited to be here.

“Going through these valleys and these peaks is what makes you really appreciate not only life but the game itself.”

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ryan Lindley is in one of those unique positions that can define a career.

If he leads the Arizona Cardinals to a win in their wild-card game Saturday against the Carolina Panthers, the third-year quarterback who has a 1-5 career record as a starter will join a rare, but not-so-distinguished club: He would become the third quarterback since the NFL merger in 1970 to win a playoff game with one or fewer regular-season wins, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“I think it would be a great story, obviously, if they could win a playoff game with their third-team quarterback,” said ESPN “Monday Night Football” commentator Jon Gruden, who will be calling Saturday’s game in Charlotte, N.C.

Cue the dramatic music.

A victory would put Lindley in football lore. It would allow him to write a storybook ending to a season that started with him on the San Diego Chargers’ practice squad.

He could also convince the Cardinals to write a check.

If Lindley leads Arizona to a win Saturday, the Cardinals could have a backup quarterback controversy. Drew Stanton has been more than effective as Arizona’s replacement for Carson Palmer this season, going 5-3 before his own knee injury caused him to miss the last two regular-season games and Saturday's playoff game.

But with $3.2 million scheduled to come Stanton’s way in 2015, is he worth it as a backup? Especially because Lindley has shown marked signs of improvement the last three weeks?

Stanton is due a $500,000 roster bonus and a $250,000 workout bonus on top of his $2.45 million base salary.

Lindley made $234,706 for seven weeks of regular-season work, which would have equaled $570,000 for the entire season. That’s an increase from the $480,000 he earned in 2013 as the third-string quarterback who didn’t get a snap.

Trading or cutting Stanton at the end of training camp would cost Arizona just about $750,000 and would save Arizona $3.2 million against the cap, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

With Palmer scheduled to earn $10.5 million next season, will a $3 million backup be worth it?

Not if Lindley wins Saturday and gives Arizona a date with either Seattle or Green Bay in the divisional round. The vitriol toward Lindley when he was named the starter before Arizona’s Week 16 game against Seattle came from all directions. It continued after a dismal performance against the Seahawks -- the No. 1-ranked defense in the league -- but subsided after he played the best half of his career against the 49ers.

There are areas in which Lindley needs to improve, such as his decision-making and deep passes, but that comes with experience and reps. He showed off his arm strength and touch last Sunday against San Francisco. His poise has also been lauded all week.

But if he beats the Panthers, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians might want to take a step back and evaluate his quarterback room aside from Palmer. Stanton will be 31 by Week 1 next season. Lindley will be 26 and Logan Thomas will be 24.

As much as he’s progressed in a few weeks getting the first-team reps, the upside is with Lindley.

During Stanton’s second stint, the offense slowed to a crawl after he threw two touchdowns in the first quarter against Detroit in Week 11. He didn’t throw another for the next 10 quarters. With Lindley’s NFL-record streak of passes without a touchdown over, it’s not weighing on him anymore.

Neither Lindley nor Stanton were effective against Seattle, as was to be expected. But Lindley and the offense showed enough progress against the Niners to earn some confidence. Put Lindley against the defenses Stanton faced against New York and San Francisco (in the first meeting) and he'd win as well.

If Lindley wins Saturday and puts a playoff victory on his resume, there should be no question about his status heading into the offseason.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- If quarterback Drew Stanton wants to play in Arizona's wild-card game Saturday at Carolina, he has to practice at least one day this week, coach Bruce Arians said.

That’s it. Just one. It doesn’t matter if it happened Tuesday or comes Wednesday or Thursday. That's all Arians wants to see from Stanton before he hands him the ball against the Panthers.

[+] EnlargeDrew Stanton
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsDrew Stanton needs to get through a practice before he is cleared to play against Carolina on Saturday.
But time is running out on Stanton. He wasn’t on the field during the part of Arizona’s practice Tuesday open to the media. Since an injury report wasn’t required to be distributed, it's unknown if he participated after practice was closed. Arians said there wasn’t a change in Stanton’s status, meaning Stanton continues to recover from a right knee injury suffered against the St. Louis Rams in Week 15.

The Cardinals will go through a walk-through in Charlotte on Friday, but Stanton would need to go through a full practice in order for Arians to consider playing him. Arizona changed their travel plans to fly to Charlotte on Thursday instead of Friday, as was initially scheduled.

“I talked to the players and the players were wanting to get in Thursday night so we moved everything up,” Arians said.

“The players just felt like they needed more rest from the flight itself and the one that you want to do as a coach is to make sure that no one has an excuse. If that’s an excuse, we’re going to fix that one real quick.”

If Stanton misses his third straight game, Ryan Lindley will get his seventh career start.

Sunday against San Francisco saw an improvement from Lindley, who completed 58.9 percent of his passes in the loss to the 49ers. His two touchdown passes were marred by three interceptions, but after almost three full seasons without a touchdown pass, Lindley was glad it happened on his NFL-record 229th attempt.

He gave the ball to his wife Monday.

“To be honest, now that it’s over, maybe it was slightly (bothering me),” Lindley said. “A little bit. You go out there and you don’t think, ‘Hey, I need to finally break this streak of touchdowns. In a sense, it’s like, ‘When am I finally going to get one?’ The biggest thing this week I that I really just said, ‘Calm down, it’s going to come and when it comes, it comes.’ Luckly, it did early.”

Arizona is the fifth team since 2006 to have four different quarterbacks throw a touchdown, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

But Arians said the Cardinals don’t see Lindley as a third-string quarterback, or their fourth quarterback of the season, anymore.

“I don’t think that anything different is expected of us in that locker room,” Arians said. “We don’t look at it as a team with a third-string quarterback. It’s our starting quarterback. He’s a Cardinal so we’d look for the same level of efficiency that we’d see if Carson [Palmer] or Drew were out there.

“I think last week gave everybody, defensively and offensively, the entire group, more confidence that they’re ready to go this week.”
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Drew Stanton stayed home from Arizona’s road trip to San Francisco over the weekend, but it’s uncertain if the extra rest will help him recover from a right knee injury in time for Saturday’s NFC wild-card game at Carolina.

Stanton
“He’s progressing and nothing’s really changed,” Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “We’ve got our fingers crossed that, possibly, he could go later in the week.”

The Cardinals leave for Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday and begin practicing Tuesday, giving Stanton just three days to return after missing the past 18 days since he left Arizona’s win over St. Louis on Dec. 11. If he plays against the Panthers, Stanton will have gone 23 days between games.

Stanton had his right knee scoped last Wednesday to relieve swelling. ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen reported that doctors found an infection during the procedure, putting the rest of the season in doubt for Stanton.

On Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Arians said he didn’t think the procedure mattered in relation to Stanton’s recovery.

“It’s still going to be down to the wire,” Arians said. “Mentally, he’ll be ready to go.”

If Stanton can’t play in the postseason, Arizona will stick with Ryan Lindley, who had showed marked improvement Sunday against the 49ers.

Arians said he saw Lindley improve in “a little bit of everything.”

“The command of it, where he was going with the ball and [wide receiver] Mike [Floyd] made some plays for him, which we didn’t do in the other game [against Seattle], which we had chances to,” Arians said. “It’s just a matter of continuing to grow.”
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Quarterback Drew Stanton was one of four Cardinals who didn't practice Wednesday, with just five days until the season finale at San Francisco.

Stanton
"Drew's getting better and better," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.

A day after saying Stanton won't play Sunday unless it was "absolutely necessary" and that there's an "85 percent" chance that Stanton will play in the playoffs, Arians said his fingers were crossed that Stanton would be ready for either of the Cardinals' next two games.

"There are no sureities about either one," Arians said. "If he's ready for this one, it would be in a backup status and we've got our fingers crossed he'll be ready to practice next week."

Also not practicing were safety Deone Bucannon (knee), tight end John Carlson (calf) and linebacker Larry Foote (knee). Arians said he expects Bucannon to practice Thursday but said Foote's status isn't as certain.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) practiced in full Wednesday, as did safety Tyrann Mathieu (thumb).

Arians thought Mathieu played "fine" against Seattle with the bulky cast on his left hand.

"You can't hurt it with as much stuff as he's got on it," Arians said. "It's hard to play with it, but he managed to do pretty good."

Limited on Wednesday were linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (knee), wide receiver Jaron Brown (foot), defensive end Calais Campbell (hip), guard Jonathan Cooper (wrist), safety Rashad Johnson (ankle), guard Ted Larsen (shoulder) and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder).

TEMPE, Ariz. -- To say anyone saw this coming would be a reach.

When coach Bruce Arians said he was leaning toward starting rookie Logan Thomas in place of Ryan Lindley in the Arizona Cardinals' season finale at San Francisco (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox), there was an element of surprise. Even, to a lesser degree, a sense of shock.

But it wasn't because Arians chose to bench Lindley after the Cardinals' 35-6 loss to Seattle in which Lindley completed just 18 of 44 passes and failed to throw a touchdown pass, extending his NFL-record streak of scoreless passes to 225. It was because Arians was going with the unproven rookie for an entire game.

Yet, it's the right choice.

Arians figured out quickly the Cardinals weren't going to win Sunday with Lindley. And with a division title and home-field advantage still on the line in a twisted, complex way, Arians can't throw in the towel just yet. By starting Thomas, Arizona will keep the 49ers guessing.

All the tape on Thomas will come from an appearance in relief of Drew Stanton for almost two quarters against the Broncos and one errant pass Sunday against Seattle. That's far from enough for the 49ers to prepare a game plan. They'll see nine passes thrown by Thomas, one of which was completed, an 81-yard touchdown to Andre Ellington.

Looking at his collegiate history, San Francisco will see a mobile quarterback. Yet, the 49ers may not see any designed runs for Thomas. At the same time, he may just take off.

See? It'll be hard to prepare for the unknown.

Arians gave himself an out, however, saying he'll be quick with the hook of Thomas if he's not playing well.

If Arians started Lindley, the 49ers would know what to expect. He was unproductive for the majority of Sunday's loss to Seattle. And when he did manage to move the ball, it led to points -- field goals, however, not touchdowns. For the third time in five games, Arizona failed to score a touchdown. With the playoffs looming, the Cardinals' offense is going backward. Had Lindley led the Cards to at least one score, his status for Sunday likely wouldn't have changed.

But the Seahawks dared the Cardinals to pass. They did. And it didn't work.

It didn't matter how Arians tried to spin his decision to start Thomas -- "I think we need to find out what he can do for the future and the playoffs, if it were to come to that" -- because it came down to the fact Arizona won't win with Lindley guiding the offense.

That may not change with Thomas on Sunday against San Francisco, but at least neither team knows what it's getting.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Regardless of how healthy Drew Stanton is by kickoff Sunday afternoon in San Francisco, he won’t play against the 49ers, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Monday.

The hope is to have Stanton ready for Arizona’s first playoff game, whether that’s during the wild card or divisional round.

“I have very, very high optimism because he wants to be ready,” Arians said. “I think had he not had that minor setback last week, he would have probably tried to play in that one.

“There’s no way I’ll play him this week unless we have to.”

Stanton
After Thursday’s practice, in which Stanton was listed as a limited participant, Stanton’s right knee swelled but it went down quickly, Arians said.

“We don’t want to have another setback,” Arians said. “He’ll work into practice some this week and get some action in practice.”
  • Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is playing at a 70-percent level as he continues to recover from a sprained left MCL, Arians said. “He’s nowhere near what he was playing at before,” Arians said. Fitzgerald has averaged 6.5 yards per catch since his he returned in Week 14 after missing two games. Prior to his injury, Fitzgerald averaged 14.3 yards per catch.
  • Jonathan Cooper received a new cast and Arians said he’ll determine Wednesday if the second-year left guard can play in San Francisco. Arians said Cooper’s initial cast was built “non-functional.” Arians wouldn’t commit to Cooper regaining his starting role at left guard if he returns this season. “We’ll have to see that in practice because he did not do very well in practice last week,” Arians said. “And then we had to take him out. If he can, again, we won’t be in pads, so it’s very hard to find out, but we’ll see.”
  • Stanton will be the only player held out of Sunday’s game, Arians said. “We’re playing to win the game,” Arians said. “If Drew were truly healthy, we would start him but I don’t see that happening by Sunday.”
  • The Cardinals came out of Sunday night’s game healthy, Arians said.
  • Arians said University of Phoenix Stadium had the feeling of a “different game than it had been all year. We didn’t rise up to that. It’s a shame because they don’t come around very often.”
  • Arians praised the NFL’s scheduling department for putting together matchups this late in the season that ended up mattering. "I think the league does a great job in scheduling when you come down to the last week of the season and there’s so much at stake still,” Arians said. “Throughout the entire league, divisions are still up in the air, wild cards are still in the air. It’s going to be a fun week.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals made quarterback Drew Stanton inactive for Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.

With the move, Logan Thomas will be the backup to starter Ryan Lindley. Combined, they have four career starts and are 5-for-18 passing for 111 yards and one touchdown this season.

Stanton was a game-time decision, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said on Friday. If Stanton had been active, he wouldn’t have been more than a backup, Arians said.

Seattle will be without C Max Unger and LT Russell Okung. The Seahawks have ran for 1,439 of their 2,363 yards to the left side, including up the middle this season.

Also inactive for Arizona will be wide receiver Brittan Golden, safety Chris Clemons, guard Jonathan Cooper, nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, guard/center Anthony Steen and defensive end Kareem Martin.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton won’t start Sunday night against Seattle but might be available to come off the bench.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians ruled Stanton out as Arizona’s starter, giving Ryan Lindley his first start since 2012. Stanton, who was officially ruled doubtful for the game, will be a game-time decision to determine if he can be Lindley’s backup, Arians said. Arians said he’ll determine Stanton's status at University of Phoenix Stadium. According to the NFL, doubtful means there's at least a 75 percent a player won't play.

Stanton
Stanton did not practice Friday because of limited snaps, Arians said, and was limited in Thursday’s practice.

“He’s made pretty decent progress,” Arians said.

Stanton left Arizona’s 12-6 win over St. Louis on Dec. 11 with a right knee injury and did not return. On Friday, Stanton appeared to have a slight limp and was walking slowly during the open portion of Arizona’s practice.
  • Left guard Jonathan Cooper was also ruled out of Sunday night's game by Arians. Cooper suffered wrist injury against the Rams and has been sporting a cast this week. Ted Larsen will be re-inserted in the starting lineup at left guard. "[His] wrist is not responding with the cast so we’ll hold him off until next week and see how much we can get out of him next week," Arians said.
  • Wide receiver Jaron Brown was the only Cardinals player listed as questionable. Everyone else was probable.
  • Seattle T Russell Okung was ruled out and C Max Unger was listed as doubtful for Sunday night.
TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton was upgraded to limited Thursday, a day after not practicing.

Stanton (knee) spent the open portion of practice on a bike and going through exercises with a trainer.

Stanton
Wide receiver Jaron Brown (toe) was also upgraded to limited. Left guard Jonathan Cooper (wrist) and veteran linebacker Larry Foote (knee) did not practice.

Right guard Paul Fanaika (ankle) fully practiced for the first time since before the Atlanta game in Week 13.

“I don’t see anything that’s lingering, unless I missed something,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said of Fanaika. “He looks pretty good. He’s excited to be back out there.”

Fitzgerald (knee) was also upgraded to full.

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (knee), defensive end Calais Campbell (hip), safety Tyrann Mathieu (thumb) and running back Kerwynn Williams (knee) were all limited.

“I feel good,” Williams said.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Leave it to Bruce Arians to throw a wrinkle in an opposing defense’s game plan simply by adding a wrinkle to his offense.

All Arians had to do to force Seattle to scramble a bit before Sunday night's kickoff was announce that his backup quarterback may get a few snaps.

Arians' announcement Monday that Ryan Lindley would start in place of Drew Stanton against the Seattle Seahawks gave Seattle’s Pete Carroll and his staff the go-ahead to start preparing for the third-year quarterback. Then Arians said that rookie quarterback Logan Thomas may be used throughout the game, as well, with his own package of plays.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
Dustin Bradford/Getty ImagesQB Logan Thomas brings a different set of skills to the table than starter Ryan Lindley does.
“I think Bruce did a really good job of letting that out because he made us have to go ahead and think about all the stuff (Thomas) could do, as well,” Carroll said on a conference call with the Arizona media.

Carroll said the Seahawks haven’t spent more time this week preparing for Thomas.

“It’s just regular stuff,” Carroll said. “There’s not a quantity amount here. We just work at figuring it out. They can’t both play at the same time and they can’t both be out there, so we just defend the guy that’s on the field.”

Technically, both Lindley and Thomas could be on the field at the same time.

“Not playing quarterback,” Carroll responded.

But the difference between the two is noticeable and distinct, Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. In no great discovery, Wagner labeled Lindley as a passer and Thomas as a "run threat." He said the Seahawks won't focus on who the quarterback is, instead they just plan to chase the ball. But Wagner added that Seattle will prepare for different formations and plays that each quarterback may run.

Carroll is more than marginally familiar with Thomas, the Cardinals’ fourth-round draft pick in May. Carroll’s son, Brennan, has been an assistant coach at the University of Miami for the last four years so the elder Carroll has seen his share of ACC football, including watching Thomas when he played at Virginia Tech.

“I thought he was a really terrific competitor, very versatile, huge arm and a tremendous looking athlete who could run with the ball,” Carroll said. “We’re going to try to prepare for all of the things that he could possibly do.”

Thomas has played just once this season, in Week 5 in place of Stanton, who left the game with a concussion. He was 1-for-8 passing in about a quarter-and-a-half.

Taking a smaller playbook into Sunday night’s game should help Thomas if he gets on the field again. But in 11 weeks, Thomas said he’s grown as a quarterback.

“I think just overall knowledge of how things are going and picking up the little things, the little nuances within our offense,” Thomas said. “Little by little getting better and better.”
TEMPE, Ariz. -- During his press conference Wednesday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was asked what the best-case scenario was for Drew Stanton's return.

"Sunday," the coach answered.

Realistically?

Stanton
"Sunday," Arians repeated. "Like I said, the brain does funny things."

While Arians' answer may have had some jest behind it, Stanton, who suffered a right knee injury on Thursday night in St. Louis, was serious when he said it's still too early to tell if he could play Sunday night against Seattle.

With a playoff berth already clinched, the Cardinals can afford to keep Stanton off the field as he continues to recover despite home-field advantage on the line against the Seahawks. Stanton said he hasn't suffered any setbacks during his rehab, which was six days old Wednesday. He said he has started jogging with a brace on his right knee to get acclimated to wearing it during games.

"I've never had an injury like this before," Stanton said. "So (I'm) dealing with it, trying to just trust the rehab that they have in place for me every day."

He was at Wednesday's practice, watching the quarterbacks warm up during the portion open to the media. The last time Stanton threw a football, he said, was "the other day" when he played catch with his son and his Mickey Mouse football at home.

Stanton said he's tried to maintain his range of motion since going down in the third quarter against the Rams with what's been reported to be a Grade 2 ACL and MCL sprain by keeping the strength built up in his quads and keep them firing.

"It's felt good," Stanton said. "It's one of those things you just go to kinda take time and the healing process is different for everybody.

"That timetable that everybody wants to put on it, I can't put one on it nor do I want to."

Stanton is keeping his goals simple for now: progress every day. While Sunday may not be realistic for his return, Stanton agreed with Arians.

It's the best-case scenario.

"I think as a competitor and as a guy that wants to help this team win, I want to get back as soon as possible now," Stanton said. "What that means? I don't know.

"I would like to be out there as soon as I can and I'm going to do everything within my power to do that."

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