With Drew Stanton, Cardinals' Arians plays it smart

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Excuse Drew Stanton if he can't get much sleep this week.

Between the birth of his daughter Monday night and being named the starting quarterback for the Cardinals because of a season-ending injury to Carson Palmer, Stanton has had a whirlwind week.

It could reach its peak Sunday when Arizona hosts Detroit in a showdown for the top spot in the NFC.

Stanton, a former Michigan State and Farmington Hills Harrison High standout, was a second-round pick by the Lions in 2007 and a backup for five seasons, learning from Jon Kitna before Matthew Stafford's arrival in 2009.

With Palmer out, Stanton is likely to start the remainder of the season as the Cardinals look to make the playoffs after being shut out last year despite a 10-6 record. A career backup, Stanton never has played more than six games in a season. (Sunday will be his fifth this year.)

"It's a tremendous opportunity," Stanton said Wednesday during a teleconference. "I've never been given this kind of a chance to play this many games. I'm focused on this week and I know how precious every single snap is.

"I had that opportunity earlier in the year and had that concussion that set me back a little bit. You can't look ahead, especially with circumstances like that. You're focused on that week at hand and focused on this day. That's how I've gotten to where I am."

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he saw something he liked in Stanton, which led him to bring the quarterback to Arizona last year. Initially, Arians believed Stanton had the talent to be the starter, but when Palmer was added, things changed quickly.

Still, with his experience, Arians was confident that if Stanton needed to play, he would fit in.

"It's not like it's his first time out," Arians said. "We won two (games), but then he got knocked out and we lost the one, so we're very confident. I think our entire locker room is confident in Drew."

Stanton didn't seem to have any problems in last weekend's victory over the Rams, replacing Palmer after he was injured. On his first series, Stanton tossed a 48-yard touchdown to John Brown to give the Cardinals the lead for good.

Although he's been accustomed to the backup role, he was ready when the opportunity presented itself.

And Arians is confident he'll perform.

"He's smart and he's tough," Arians said. "I love smart, tough quarterbacks. He's mobile but he's also got a good deep ball. He really worked on his accuracy in Indy and continues to work on it here and has tremendously improved. I just love smart, tough guys."

Lions at Cardinals

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. Sunday, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

TV/radio: Fox/97.1

Records: Detroit 7-2, Arizona 8-1

Line: Cardinals by 1½

Series: Lions lead 31-26-5 (Arizona 25-21, Sept. 15, 2013)

Did you know? Detroit has lost seven straight at Arizona. The last victory, 21-14, was Dec. 12, 1993.

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Fond memories

Drew Stanton began his career as a backup for the Lions after he was drafted in the second round in 2007.

And he still cherishes his time with the Lions — despite being part of the 0-16 team in 2008 — thanks to the relationships he established.

"The first couple years are rather forgettable — that goes without saying," Stanton said. "But my last couple years there with those guys in the locker room, I think that time period where I did get to play.

"We went down to Tampa Bay and won that game because I think we snapped a 20-game road streak or something at that point, that was a monumental point for me because it showed that I could play in this league, that I could go out there and win a football game."

Stanton says he keeps in contact with quarterback Matthew Stafford, as well as an occasional call to Calvin Johnson. He noted that Ndamukong Suh and DeAndre Levy are likely the only Lions left from his time here, but he'll have his hands full playing against them Sunday.