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Ryan Lindley to start for Arizona Cardinals in playoffs vs. Panthers

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians announced Thursday that Ryan Lindley will make his third consecutive start Saturday when the Cards travel to take on the Carolina Panthers in an NFC wild-card playoff game.

“Drew (Stanton) is not going to be able to play, and everybody else is ready to roll,” Arians said.

Arians said Stanton, who started eight games for Arizona in relief of injured starting QB Carson Palmer, will be inactive Saturday. Stanton is still recovering from a knee sprain he suffered in the Cardinals’ win at the St. Louis Rams on Dec. 11.

The coach said Stanton was close to being ready to go this week, but added, “there is no way I’m risking it.”

So, the team will turn to Lindley, a sixth-round 2012 draft pick who will be making his first career playoff start. He has thrown for 562 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions in three appearances for Arizona this season. Last week, against San Francisco, Lindley threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, though he was picked off three times.

However, if there was any doubt about whether or not the third-year pro could get the job done, there is less now.

“We’ve seen what he can do,” linebacker Larry Foote said. “The question was answered last week against a top-five defense. Threw for 300 yards. We know he can throw the ball.”

If the Cardinals are to go into Carolina and upset the Panthers, Lindley will probably have to play his best game as a pro. The experience he has gained over the last few weeks has helped him improve, with Arians often praising the QB’s growth. When asked what Lindley does best, the coach said, “he knows what he’s doing.”

“He knows the offense, he’s very bright, he has courage,” the coach added. “Some people call it guts, but he has courage. And it takes courage to play that position at this level. So he has the things that really count — he’s smart, he’s tough and his accuracy is getting better and better.”