Drew Stanton to get second straight start for Arizona Cardinals against 49ers

Sep 19, 2014, 9:19 PM | Updated: 10:08 pm

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Drew Stanton went four years in between regular season NFL starts.

Now, he’s set to start his second game in a row as the Arizona Cardinals host the San Francisco 49ers in a key division matchup as Carson Palmer continues to miss time due to nerve damage in his right shoulder.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made the announcement after practice Friday.

“Drew Stanton’s going to start the game; we’ll put that to bed right now,” he said. “If Carson can play he’ll be the backup in this ballgame and we’ll probably deactivate Logan (Thomas) but we’ll wait and see on that. But nobody in the dark about who’s going to be the starting quarterback.”

If not for Stanton’s performance last week, in which he completed 14-of-29 passes for 167 yards with no touchdowns and no turnovers, there would be some mystery about what backup-turned-starter could do. But there figures to be a difference between the 49ers and Giants, and that could complicate things this weekend.

“It’s a tougher type of ballgame, but it’s at home,” Arians said. “This is a really, really stout defense and one of the best in the league.”

Earlier in the week, before he knew he’d be starting again, Stanton said he would go along preparing as if he’d get the nod again. He said the first-team reps he got last week were important.

“To be able to throw with Michael (Floyd) and do the stuff, it speeds up the process,” he said. “Because you want to be on the same page. Obviously timing is of the essence, especially in this league when the windows close and where you’re going with your progressions.”

Stanton targeted Floyd with six passes against the Giants, but only connected with the receiver on one of them. Floyd, who said the only thing that changes going from Palmer to Stanton are the added reps with the backup, is confident the extra work together will produce results.

“That’s what it is, just getting used to each other,” he said. “I think this week will be a lot better.”

Whether he’s connecting with Floyd or anyone else, the Cardinals will likely need things to be.

“We had some shots down there we just missed, but we do need chunks,” Arians said when asked if the downfield passing game takes a hit with Stanton at quarterback. “That’s one thing that we missed a little bit in that ballgame, and we had some opportunities, we just missed them.”

As solid as Stanton was against the Giants, the team will likely need even more from the 30-year-old if they are to improve to 3-0 on the season with a win Sunday against the 49ers.

When the Cardinals first looked at this game on the schedule, there’s no doubt they did not envision it being started by their backup. But as they’ve learned — perhaps even more than other teams in the league — sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

Which brings up the other angle to this story: if Palmer is unable to be the team’s backup, rookie Logan Thomas will be. And from the sound of it, the chance of Palmer suiting up appears to be slim.

“He cannot throw,” Arians said of Palmer’s current status. “He’s improved dramatically, but he still can’t throw.”

If Palmer is out, Thomas could be one play away from taking over. Just a few weeks ago, the idea was for the talented-but-raw QB to go the season without seeing the field.

“I’ve been learning quickly, as fast as I possibly can, just taking every day like I’m going to be playing the game,” Thomas said. “Obviously I know that the chances are slim that I will be, but that’s how you get better and that’s how you have to prepare.”

For a brief moment last week in New York when Stanton took a big (and penalized) hit from Giants linebacker Jameel McClain, it appeared as if the team may be forced to hand the reins over to the fourth-round pick.

The backup QB is always one play away from being the guy. It is why Stanton is starting Sunday, after all. And

“It kind of puts you on edge a little bit more, I guess,” Thomas said of being the number two. “But at the end of the day it’s still football.”

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