#CardsMailbag What are you most intrested in watching during Training Camp and the Preseason?
— Matthew Sorrell (@SadAzSportsFan) June 15, 2017
If I had to narrow the Arizona Cardinals' training camp to one thing I'm most interested in watching, it'll be the battle at backup quarterback.
There are plenty of other storylines, as well. A lot of people will have their eyes on the cornerback dual between Justin Bethel and Brandon Williams, or how Robert Nkemdiche bounces back from a disappointing rookie year or how Tyrann Mathieu looks at safety this year after ending another season on injured reserve. Those will all be entertaining storylines when camp begins on July 21, but to me, at least, Drew Stanton versus Blaine Gabbert will be the most intriguing among everything else at camp.
Stanton is the incumbent backup quarterback. He knows the offense inside and out -- better than anyone else in that locker room since he spent 2012 with Bruce Arians in Indianapolis as well. He's beloved by Arians and the coaching staff. It'll be a hefty undertaking by Gabbert to try to unseat him. But it's doable.
Gabbert, unlike Stanton, was a first-round pick. Quarterbacks, regardless of the public's perception of them don't just go among the first 32 picks if they're not qualified physically to be an NFL quarterback. Gabbert has all the tools. The question once camp begins will be whether he can put them all together and play better than he has throughout his career to this point. He hasn't played with the type of offensive line and wide receiver talent that he'll play alongside with the Cardinals. Will that be enough for him to show his talent? Who knows. But it gives him as good of a chance as ever to do so.
The trick to picking a backup quarterback lies in a coach's comfort level with him should the starter go down for a significant amount of time. Any capable backup can fill in for two or three games. But can that same quarterback play eight or 12 games while keeping his team on a winning pace? That's the question that Arians will have to answer when it comes to picking between Stanton and Gabbert: Who does he want behind center if starter Carson Palmer should go down for most of the season?