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Former QB Byron Leftwich joins Arizona Cardinals, helps teach young quarterbacks

Byron Leftwich (right) is coaching with the Cardinals this offseason. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE  – So as it turns out, the Arizona Cardinals added a third quarterback for rookie minicamp.

But this signal-caller is no rookie.

Byron Leftwich, a 10-year veteran of the NFL, joined the Cardinals as a coaching intern.

“Byron will be here the entire spring and training camp and after that, we’ll see. Hopefully, I can keep him all year,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “I think he’s got a great, bright future in coaching.”

Leftwich, who was the seventh overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2003 NFL Draft, played for four teams during his career, including working with Arians in Pittsburgh in 2008.  Leftwich backed up Ben Roethlisberger while Arians was the offensive coordinator.  Together, they won the Super Bowl, beating the Cardinals in the process.

Leftwich retired in 2012.

On Friday, Leftwich, 36, was helping quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens work out the two young quarterbacks invited to camp, Jake Coker and Stephen Rivers.

Despite winning a national championship his senior year at Alabama, Coker did not hear his name called during last week’s draft.

Fifteen quarterbacks did; just not Coker, who threw for a career-high 335 yards and two touchdowns in the National Championship Game win over Clemson at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“It is what is.  It’s over with now,” he said.  “I’m here and I’m excited to be here and I’m going to make the most of it.”

Coker signed with the Cardinals as a rookie free agent, one of 16 the team signed.

“Just to be able to come here and just get an opportunity, I’m thankful for that,” he said.

Rivers is out of Northwestern State and the younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.  He was among 23 players invited to tryout.

Both Coker and Rivers hope to open enough eyes this weekend to be the Cardinals fourth quarterback and then compete with Matt Barkley to be No. 3 behind starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton.

“The quarterbacks were hung out to dry a few times because of not having the right routes (run) on the backside or thinking there was a different route on the backside,” Arians said Friday, “but at least they were on the backside of the coverage throwing it to the right spot; and we can correct that.

“It was a nice beginning to the season.”

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