Stanton practices, but Gabbert could get first Arizona start

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(Source: AP Images) (Source: AP Images)
TEMPE, AZ (AP) -

Drew Stanton practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and still hopes to play when the Arizona Cardinals meet the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

But Blaine Gabbert got most of the reps with the first unit, leaving the identity of the starter for the Cardinals (4-5) an open question.

"He (Stanton) doesn't want to give that up, and Blaine's having a heck of a week," coach Bruce Arians said. "So, like I said, whichever one is available, if they're both available, we'll see how it goes."

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Cardinals]

Arians said he won't select a starting quarterback until probably Friday.

Stanton sprained a knee early in last Thursday night's loss to Seattle, but gutted it out and finished the game.

"Adrenaline was obviously in full effect," he said, "and wanting to be out there, realizing that I don't take a single snap for granted. ... and if I ever felt like I was going to be a detriment to the team, then you also have to be wise in that sense. I wanted to continue to be out there and I really wanted to win that football game, because that could have been a huge springboard for us."

Stanton, Carson Palmer's backup the past five seasons, has started the past two games after Palmer broke his left arm and was lost for the season.

Gabbert, a first-round draft pick in 2011, signed with Arizona in the offseason. There was no competition for the backup quarterback job. Arians kept Stanton there and relegated Gabbert to third string. Now, Gabbert will suit up on Sunday, either as Stanton's backup or as the starter.

Gabbert, 9-31 as a starter in three seasons for Jacksonville and two for San Francisco, relishes the chance to play in a game.

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

Stanton said he's trying to practice "a little more each day."

"I think just being smart with it and seeing how it responds," he said, "and both days have been successful thus far. That's the goal each and every day. It's one of those things that you don't know when it's going to start feeling better and whatnot, but I don't want to push it too hard."

Gabbert said the extra reps with the first unit have helped immensely.

"Anytime you can get reps in an offense, especially being this is my first year in the system, any rep is valuable," he said. "Especially when you're in a game plan week, going against certain coverages, certain looks, certain pressures."

Gabbert said he has played for eight head coaches and seven offensive coordinators in his seven NFL seasons. He said he loves Arians' complicated system.

"It's been great," Gabbert said. "It puts a lot on the quarterback, which is awesome. It's definitely a quarterback-driven system and that's what we ask for."

Arians says he has liked what he's seen from Gabbert.

"He can flat throw the ball," the coach said "and how fast he picked it up was amazing to me. He makes throws against our defense and our scout teams that make you go 'wow' every day. Now, within our offense, he's not making blatant mistakes. He knows the ball's going where it's supposed to go, so he's got a chance to be successful."

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