In 2014 the Arizona Cardinals were a team that shocked the NFL. It has been well documented by the many writers who follow the team, as well as the national media. The Cardinals took hits at their depth and key players, whether it was due to injuries or suspensions.
Perhaps the hardest hit was the quarterback position. Carson Palmer missed all but six games. Stanton played well in his absence, but even he was bit by the injury bug. That left the team down to rookie Logan Thomas, and the ever dreadful Ryan Lindley.
Palmer and Stanton are coming back healthy, and the team is pressing forward with who they have. Let us examine the players under contract.
Palmer has gone 16-6 in his starts with the Cardinals. He has seen career rejuvenated in the desert, thanks to Bruce Arians and Steve Keim's building of a solid roster. In two seasons with the team he's passed for 5900 yards 35 scores to 25 picks. By all reports, Palmer is ahead of schedule in his rehab from that horrendous knee injury, and will be ready to go in Preseason.
Bruce Arians spoke highly of Stanton when he first joined the team. Stanton was originally signed as the teams starter, before Carson Palmer was acquired. Arians faith in Stanton was confirmed this past season, when he went 5-3. tossing seven scores to five picks. Stanton went down in week 15 to the Rams, and is also on the path to return. He's the teams #2 for the upcoming season.
Thomas was drafted as the quarterback of the future last season. He only played in two games last season, not starting in either. He completed only one pass in his nine attempts. That one pass was an 81 yard score to Andre Ellington. Thomas was a potential starter after Ryan Lindley was thrashed by the Seahawks, but was relegated back to the bench after a poor practice. Thomas was raw coming out of the draft, but the team has hope in him going forward.
Mr. Irrelevant in 2012 has never played a down in an NFL game. Harnish is a camp arm and nothing more, unless he can outplay Stanton or Thomas, both of which are unlikely.
Sims came in as one of the tryout players. He was signed to the teams offseason roster after impressing the coaches with his arm and his ability to quickly pick up plays. Arians voiced this in support of Sims:
"He was able to get it. His reads were correct. He actually changed a protection once and I was like, 'Whoa, you're up to level five already. These guys can't do that.' And he was very accurate. He got my attention. He's in the mix."
He played college ball in Alabama, before transferring to Virginia after AJ McCarron beat him out for the starting job. Sims transferred again from Virginia to Winston-Salem State, after being declared "Academically Ineligible". While at Salem-State, Sims split time with Rudy Johnson all season.
Sims has a long way to go before he shows he can play in an NFL game, but he's made the right step by impressing Arians enough to give him an extended look.
The quarterback position is deep if Palmer can remain healthy, and if he goes down Stanton can remain healthy.
The next article in the series will address the running backs.