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Blaine Gabbert: Arizona Cardinals QB ready if Drew Stanton is not

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The Sports Xchange
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert is sacked by Dallas Cowboys Anthony Brown during the first quarter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on August 3 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert is sacked by Dallas Cowboys Anthony Brown during the first quarter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on August 3 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There is a simple explanation as to why Blaine Gabbert has not enjoyed any real success during his seven seasons in the NFL, according to Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.

"He was on really (expletive) teams," Arians said matter-of-factly on Wednesday. "He's on seven head coaches, eight coordinators. That ain't a recipe for success."

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No, it isn't. But Arians has seen a ton of progress and positives in Gabbert since the Cardinals signed him to a one-year contract prior to the start of this season. And he's seen even more in the past two weeks -- enough to say he would feel completely comfortable letting Gabbert direct Arizona's offense on Sunday against the Houston Texans if Drew Stanton can't start because of a sprained right knee.

"He can flat throw the ball and how fast he picked up (the offense) was amazing to me," Arians said. "He makes throws against our defense and scout team that makes you go 'wow' every day. And within our offense, he's not making blatant mistakes. The ball is going where it's supposed to go, so he has a chance to be successful."

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Gabbert's experience also is a major plus in Arians' mind.

"Oh yeah. He's played in so many offenses, so it's not like you're throwing a rookie out there or a guy that's never played before," Arians said. "I can honestly say this is the best feeling I've had about playing a third quarterback. If he plays, I feel really good about it."

Gabbert said he will be ready if called upon. The final decision as to who starts at quarterback, Arians said, will likely be made after practice on Friday.

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"Anytime you can go out on the football field and play in the regular season, it's something we hold dear as an athlete," Gabbert said. "The opportunities don't come very often and you've just got to make the most of them."

Stanton, who has started the past two games in place of the injured Carson Palmer, said he's been making progress with his knee each of the past two days. He was injured during the first quarter of Thursday night's loss to the Seahawks, but managed to stay in and finish the game.

"I think adrenaline was obviously in full effect," Stanton said. "But I wanted to be out there, realizing I don't take a single snap for granted. So I wanted to be out there and do stuff. If I ever felt like I was going to be a detriment to the team, you also have to be wise in that sense."

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Stanton said he feels encouraged about his chances of being able to play on Sunday.

"I'm not going to count myself out," Stanton said. "I think that with the help of this training staff and everybody around here, if that's in the team's best interest and I can go out there and help, then I want to do that. If it's not, then Blaine will go out there and do a great job."

Would Arians be willing to start Stanton even if the quarterback is not at 100 percent health?

"It depends on what not 100 percent means," Arians said. "If he's mobile enough to protect himself and everything, yes."

SERIES HISTORY: 4th regular-season meeting. Cardinals lead series, 2-1. Houston won the first and only meeting at home in the series in 2005. Arizona has played at least one road game against every other NFL team since the last time it played a game in Houston. The Cardinals won narrow victories in the most recent meetings, including a 27-24 win at University of Phoenix Stadium in 2013 in which then-defensive coordinator Wade Phillips subbed in for then-head coach Gary Kubiak, who had suffered a mini-stroke the week before against the Colts.

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--There have been no decisions made regarding who will or won't be activated off the injured reserve list, although a handful of players are and will be eligible.

"There's no doubt it's fluid," general manager Steve Keim said. "There are probably anywhere from four to five guys, whether it's David Johnson, T.J. Logan, Mike Iupati, Aaron Brewer or even Carson Palmer that could potentially come back as the two designated-to-return players.

"We'll determine that, again, in a fluid process of which guys are healing at a faster rate and what makes sense moving forward at that time of the year."

--"At the top of the chart. This isn't the first time I've seen him gut it up like that. But, yeah, he's off the charts. That's why his teammates love him." -- Head coach Bruce Arians when asked about backup quarterback Drew Stanton's toughness.

--Entering Sunday's game at Houston, the Cardinals were tied for the fourth-fewest takeaways in the league with nine. Eight of them were by interceptions and their one fumble recovery is the fewest.

"I don't really know," safety Tyrann Mathieu said when asked to explain the low number of takeaways. "I guess other teams are taking care of the football. A few balls haven't been bouncing our way. A few tipped passes are going over our heads. We've just got to stay within the moment and those turnovers will come in bunches for us.

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"Hopefully this week is the week that we have a five- or six-turnover game. We've just got to be ready for the opportunity."

--With a win Sunday against the Texans, the Cardinals would improve to 6-0 against teams from the AFC South under head coach Bruce Arians.

--When the Cardinals won the coin flip to open last Thursday night's game against the visiting Seahawks, it was shocking to see Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians defer and send his defense out to start the game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Apparently, the decision was made because members of the Cardinals' defense lobbied Arians to change things up and let them set the tone instead of the offense.

"Our defense has been bugging the (expletive)out of me to put them out there first," Arians said.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu said the lobbying didn't come from him.

"I think that came from (cornerback) Patrick (Peterson)," Mathieu said. "I don't really care, obviously. The way things have been going this year, you kind of want to switch things up and see what works and doesn't work."

NOTES: NT Corey Peters is dealing with a high-ankle sprain and is expected to miss not only Sunday's game at Houston, but perhaps an additional week or two. Head coach Bruce Arians said Xavier Williams and Rodney Gunter will take turns replacing him in the lineup. ... QB Drew Stanton (knee) was one of four players who were listed as limited in practice on Wednesday. The others were wide receiver John Brown (back), center A.Q. Shipley (shoulder) and right tackle John Wetzel (back). ... T John Wetzel is moving from backup left tackle to be the team's starting right tackle now that Jared Veldheer will be moving back to left tackle in place of the injured D.J. Humphries, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury. ... S Budda Baker has been making his mark as a rookie this season by starring on special teams as the Cardinals' best gunner on kickoff and punt coverage. But with the season-ending knee injury to starting strong safety Tyvon Branch, Baker is about to get a huge extra dose of playing time in Arizona's base 4-3 defense. ... WR Larry Fitzgerald needs 62 receiving yards to pass tight end Tony Gonzalez (15,127) for fifth place on the NFL's all-time list for career receiving yards. Fitzgerald is 143 yards from passing Isaac Bruce (15,208) for fourth place. ... RB Adrian Peterson is 73 rushing yards from surpassing Hall of Famer Marcus Allen (12,243) for 13th place on the NFL's all-time rushing yardage list and 76 yards from passing Edgerrin James (12,246) for 12th place. With 109 yards against the Texans, Peterson would also move ahead of Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (12,279) for 11th place. ... CB Patrick Peterson has been nominated for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, which was established in 2014 and recognizes players who demonstrate good qualities such as sportsmanship, fair play, integrity and respect for the game.

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