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Drew Stanton, 'the perfect guy' as No. 2 QB, still has 'goal to be a starting quarterback'

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The veteran hasn't thrown a pass since 2010, but knows his time will still come.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

When the Arizona Cardinals changed their leadership last year, their first big free agent signing was quarterback Drew Stanton, who was a backup quarterback in Indianapolis the previous season. He quickly became the clear backup in Arizona when the team traded for Carson Palmer and was given a vote of confidence by Arians before the draft that neither the number one nor number two will change.

But for Stanton, who hasn't thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2010, that doesn't mean he is comfortable.

"I think you're always fighting for your job," he told me after practice on Friday. "If you're ever comfortable, then you're going to find yourself out of this league."

It shouldn't be a surprise to hear him say that.

Whenever head coach Bruce Arians or Carson Palmer -- or anyone for that matter -- speak of Stanton, you only hear how great he is.

Palmer told the media on Saturday that Stanton is "the perfect guy" for his role.

"He's prepared to play every single week, whether it's the last snap of a game on a kneeldown or the third snap of a game if something were to happen," he said. "It takes a certain type of character, it takes a certain type of demeanor," and Stanton has it.

"He can step in and lead. He can step in and play. He can work with the younger guys."

Palmer, now in his second year in the offense, despite being comfortable where he is at, still talks to Drew "every day, multiple times a day" about football issues, the offense, technique, game planning...whatever.

Stanton says he is "just an extra resource" for Palmer.

"We have that in our quarterback room," he said about the working relationship they have. "That's what we tried to build over the last year and continue to do that, and continue to progress and trust each other and work in the direction we're trying to get to."

Stanton doesn't get the press or the attention from fans, as the buzz is all about Palmer and how he will do in Year 2, or how Logan Thomas, whom the team drafted in the fourth round this year, is doing. But Stanton, in the words of Arians "is having a whale of a camp."

Arians would feel very comfortable with Stanton as his number one if Palmer ever were to get hurt.

It would be "no problem" for Stanton to step in and play or start.

"With Drew, you don't have to tell him anything because he's been in the offense longer," explained Arians. "He understands everything, why we do what we do and where it came from, so it's probably easier for him than for Carson."

Even still, Stanton has not thrown a regular season pass since 2010. "That's the history of number twos," said Arians. But it doesn't discourage Stanton. He doesn't wonder when he'll get his chance, or if he ever will.

"What I learned early on is to focus on the things you have control over and that helped me instrumentally because early on I was sitting there frustrated and that can be a detriment to your play at times," he told me. "But if you worry about the stuff you have control over out there and be as good as you possibly can every day, take coaching and get better, then when my time comes I'll look forward to making the most of it."

He noted players like Jake Delhomme and Josh McCown and the routes they took to become starters.

"There's some guys that get drafted and just go out there and start their career off that way," he said. "I didn't have that luxury."

But that doesn't mean he feels sorry for himself. He knows how fortunate he is to be in the NFL, although he does want more.

In the end, he is a perfect professional in his position. He supports his teammates, he works hard, he prepares and stays hungry.

He knows one thing well and holds to it --"There's no direct path on how you become a starting quarterback in this league."

In the meantime, he remains the "perfect guy" to have as a number two quarterback for a team that has playoff aspirations.