Bruce Arians: Blaine Gabbert can be a starter again


Blaine Gabbert has given way to Drew Stanton in the fight to nab Arizona's No. 2 quarterback job behind Carson Palmer.

The Cardinals, though, see long-term promise in the former first-round pick.

"I've been very pleased," coach Bruce Arians recently said of Gabbert, per the team's official website. "Short-term, I'd be very comfortable if he had to play for us. Long-term, if he continues at this rate, he could be a starter."

That's what Gabbert used to be. First in Jacksonville, where the former Missouri star crashed and burned after three seasons sporting an inglorious 5-22 record. The 10th overall pick of the 2011 draft operated as a diorama of mechanical shortcomings in Jacksonville, but his next stop in San Francisco was sunnier.

With the pressure of his draft pedigree stripped away, Gabbert settled down with the Niners and put streaks of positive play on tape, showing moments of plus athleticism, adequate arm work and the ability to lead a team.

He's stood out in Arizona, hitting 36 of 57 passes for 496 yards with a touchdown and a pick (which wasn't his fault) over four preseason games. Infamously ribbed on for his yards-per-attempt woes in Jacksonville, Gabbert enters Thursday night's clash with the Broncos fielding a solid 8.7 yards per pass figure.

"I had worked out with him a handful of times a couple of years ago in the offseason," Palmer said. "Very aware of his skill-set. He's as talented as it gets throwing the football and moving around in the pocket and on the run. I haven't been surprised."

Arians has shown loyalty to Stanton, Palmer's long-term backup, but Gabbert has looked like the better reserve passer this summer.

Whether or not he morphs back into a starter is a question for tomorrow, but Gabbert -- once a surefire flame-out -- is beginning to have the look of a player who could hang around the league for years to come.