Glendale, Ariz. — It would be tough to really glean anything from the Cardinals’ 16-13 loss to the Denver Broncos at University of Phoenix Stadium Thursday night.
Being each team’s final game of the exhibition, starting-caliber players were as scarce on the field as points were on the scoreboard.
Still, anyone hoping to see Cardinals rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley show enough to make you believe he has a future in this league got exactly that.
The sixth-round pick out of San Diego State got the start and went on to complete 14-of-26 passes for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Displaying the arm strength he’s known for and the accuracy he’s not, Lindley certainly did enough to make you think ‘hey, maybe this guy could be something’.
“I think Ryan did a pretty nice job,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said, noting that the interception was due to miscommunication with the receiver.
That may not seem like high praise, but given how the play of the team’s other quarterbacks has been talked about this preseason, it sadly means quite a bit.
But if you are looking for someone to really wow you with a quote, you need only listen to Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald.
“He delivered the ball; he gave guys opportunities to make plays out in the field and he did a good job,” the receiver said. “He is very confident; he’s not lacking confidence.
“He’s got a good huddle presence, has very good command, and a lot of poise for a young guy.”
There you go.
For a player who was brought in as more of a project than anything, Lindley has certainly done a good job of making many think his time may come sooner rather than later.
“The one thing that’s been consistent is his poise and how he’s handled himself,” Whisenhunt said. “And he’s thrown the ball well; he’s accurate.”
Whisenhunt was especially pleased with how Lindley fared on third downs early in the game.
“Some of those third down throws, they were on the money, they were in the right spots and that was nice to see,” he said.
What’s encouraging is that accurate is not a word anyone used to describe Lindley coming out of college. His improvement shows he’s taken advantage of his first NFL training camp, which is exactly what you’d hope to see a rookie do.
“Overall I felt pretty good,” Lindley said of his effort Thursday. “I feel like I’m functioning better each week. That’s all you can look to do is improve.”
Lindley is not going to challenge for the starting job, at least not yet. He is certainly on the head coach’s radar, though, and it’s not exactly a giant leap from this point to the top spot on the depth chart – just ask Max Hall circa 2010.
But that’s not something the quarterback is thinking about or worried about. In fact, the 23-year-old is just like the rest of us when it comes to the competition for the number one job.
“I think everyone is curious,” Lindley said. “But I know that Coach [Whisenhunt] is going to make a great decision.”
Even if it’s not Lindley — yet.