TEMPE, Ariz. — That the Arizona Cardinals will go into this week’s game in San Francisco without their starting quarterback is not a surprise.
The good news is Carson Palmer’s absence is only expected to be one game.
“He’s getting much better and feels fine, so hopefully we’ll have him back next week,” head coach Bruce Arians said.
The Cardinals will play another primetime affair next week when they host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.
In the meantime, Palmer will be like most fans on Thursday, at home watching the Cardinals take on the Niners in an early-season NFC West clash.
Palmer still has not cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol.
“Carson has made progress, but there was no way I’m going to take any chances with him. He argued a little bit (about making the trip),” Arians said.
So, as expected, it will be Drew Stanton under center.
Now in his 10th season, Stanton will be making his first start in two years and 13th overall. His record as a starting quarterback is 7-5.
Back in 2014, Stanton started eight games for the Cardinals, winning five times including against San Francisco in Week 4, when he threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns.
For his career, Stanton has completed 54 percent of his passes for 3,021 yards with 12 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He’s also rushed for two scores.
“Drew is more than capable. We got the utmost confidence in him, and me personally, I’ve been with Drew since Indianapolis, so I go back so my comfort level with him is great,” center A.Q. Shipley said. “He knows the system inside and out. I mean he’s been it now four, five years. I think even longer than Carson now, so he knows it every bit as good as Carson. We’ve just got to go out and make it comfortable for him and keep him clean and be able to run the ball.”
Zac Dysert will be the backup quarterback.
Signed off the practice squad earlier in the week, Dysert has been with the Cardinals since right before the season began, so he’s familiar with the offense.
“He’s a very bright guy,” Arians said. “He has a package he knows very well and is very comfortable with and we’ll use that package if we have to use him.”
In addition to Palmer, Arians ruled out both tight end Darren Fells (shoulder) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) for the game. Neither practiced this week, and thus they will not travel to San Francisco.
Fells got hurt late in the fourth quarter against Los Angeles. It’s unknown when Stinson was injured.
Three players have been listed as questionable: cornerback Justin Bethel (foot), defensive tackle Josh Mauro (chest) and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (knee). Arians called each of them game-time decisions.
The full injury report can be found here.
Andre Ellington: I’m ready
With Chris Johnson on injured reserve, Andre Ellington will move into the backup running back role behind David Johnson.
“I’m ready, man. I’ve been ready when I’ve been injured. I’m not injured anymore, and I’m more than ready,” Ellington said. “I’m just excited to go out and play; get a chance to get a win. We lost some games that we wish we could get back, but we got an opportunity to get a win, so it’s important.”
It’s been slim pickings for Ellington thus far, at least on the offensive end. In four games, he’s received all of two carries. There was a two-yard run against Tampa Bay in Week 2 and then a run for no gain last week.
“Hey, your guess is as good as mine,” Ellington responded, when asked about how much more of a role he’ll have against the 49ers . “I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen. My job is to just be prepared and when I’m out there, just contribute.”
Ellington has been used more as a wide receiver this season, either out of the backfield or lined up in the slot in five-wide sets. He has four catches for 21 yards.
Much of Ellington’s snaps have come on special teams, where’s he’s been returning kickoffs. That’s a job that’s now expected to go to Brittan Golden this week, according to Arians.
Golden was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster on Tuesday.
It’s a quick turnaround
When the Cardinals take the field at Levi’s Stadium, they’ll only be four days removed from their previous game, a 17-13 loss to the Rams.
“Nobody likes Thursday games,” Shipley said. “It’s tough on the body, but (the coaches) have done a great job handling us this week and not making it too strenuous physically. Mentally, it’s good for us to get back out there and kind of wipe away that taste.”
The loss to the Rams stung on two fronts: 1) it was a division game and 2) it was a home game. Two of the Cardinals’ three defeats have come at University of Phoenix Stadium, one more than all of last season.
With all that in mind, perhaps it’s a good thing the Cardinals had a short week. Or maybe not.
“Yeah, I mean, I still don’t like the quick turnaround,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said, laughing. “But to get the bad taste out of our mouths a little bit earlier would definitely be sweeter after we get the win, on the plane ride back home, but for the most part I still don’t like the quick turnaround.”