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TEMPE, Ariz. – This week on his weekly national radio appearance, Arizona coach Bruce Arians was asked about the possibility of benching quarterback Drew Stanton.
"That was the dumbest damn question I've ever heard in my life," Arians told reporters Wednesday.
The truth is, there are no options.
Rookie Logan Thomas is considered a long-term project with a rocket, but erratic arm. The other quarterback is Ryan Lindley, Arizona's No. 3 at the position last season who was beaten out by Thomas in training camp and was picked up off San Diego's practice squad when starter Carson Palmer was hurt last month. There's nobody out on the street, either, to come in and save the day.
With Stanton at the controls, the Cardinals have lost two in a row to slice their lead in the NFC West to one game over Seattle. Arizona's offense went 28 consecutive possessions without a touchdown before getting one late in last weekend's 29-18 loss at Atlanta.
The pressure is new to Stanton, who hadn't taken a regular-season snap in four years before Palmer injured his shoulder early this season.
"For me, it's a learning experience every time I step out on the field," he said. "I've only got a handful of starts under my belt, but at the same time I feel like I'm progressing. The biggest thing is not letting these mistakes grow and really cost us out there, but learn from them and move on and hopefully don't repeat them again."
Despite their two losses, the Cardinals (9-3) still are tied for the best record in the NFL going into Sunday's home game against Kansas City (7-5). Stanton is 3-3 as a starter.
"He's had two rough games," Arians said, "but the guys around him haven't played very well."
Against Seattle's punishing defense two weeks ago, Stanton completed 14 of 26 for 140 yards with one interception and was sacked seven times. Wide receiver Jaron Brown dropped a pass in the end zone. Against Atlanta last Sunday, he was 24 of 39 for 294 yards, many of them coming on that late seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive. He was intercepted twice.
The Falcons game was a failure all around, Arians said, a listless performance by just about everyone. He has not yelled at his players this week, though.
"I don't want to single guys out, but we had some guys who had been playing at a very, very high level get blocked by backups, Arians said. "We had guys not getting open in times where they should've, and not tackling. Just turn on the tape and watch the tape. The tape's embarrassing enough."
It hasn't helped that Arizona's running game has been awful, compiling 64 yards in 40 carries against Seattle and 35 yards in 11 carries at Atlanta.
Running back Andre Ellington, already with foot and hip problems, sustained a hip pointer (in the other hip) and didn't practice on Wednesday. Neither did two starting linemen, left tackle Jared Veldheer and right guard Paul Fanaika, with ankle injuries. If Fanaika can't go, last year's first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper would start at one of the guard spots. Cooper, coming back from a broken leg, lost his job in training camp and only recently has seen any playing time.
Stanton and the rest of the offense will welcome back Larry Fitzgerald, the eight-time Pro Bowl receiver who missed the last two games with a bruised knee.
"Larry brings a ton of passion, and he's also a big playmaker," Arians said. "He'll probably catch a couple of those high balls. He's not dropping the one in Seattle, that's for sure. ... But, the passion and the energy, and an All-Pro player, that's hard to replace."
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