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Drew Stanton picks up where Carson Palmer left off against Raiders

Drew Stanton threw for 112 yards and a touchdown on 11-for-15 passing in a quarter-and-a-half against the Raiders on Saturday night. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carson Palmer knew he heard coach Bruce Arians say in Friday night’s team meeting that the offensive starters would play the entire first quarter Saturday night against the Oakland Raiders.

Arians knew that earlier in the week he said the starters would get just 15 plays.

So when Arians told Palmer his night was over after the QB led Arizona on a 14-play drive that covered 70 yards and resulted in a touchdown with 8 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first quarter, Palmer wasn’t pleased. He pointed out Arians’ comments from the night before. He showed Arians how much time was left on the clock. But it didn’t matter. Palmer’s first preseason action of the 2017 season had come and gone in the first 9 minutes of Arizona's 20-10 win over the Raiders at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“I thought I was going get the first quarter,” Palmer said. “That’s what he said last night at the team meeting. I missed a couple. I missed a long one to (wide receiver) Jaron (Brown) and wanted to kind of redeem myself. I didn’t get that chance.

“I’ve got to wait until next week.”

Drew Stanton doesn’t need to redeem himself next week. He showed enough in Saturday’s 20-10 win over the Oakland Raiders to temporarily quiet the chatter about him losing the back-up job to Blaine Gabbert.

Stanton threw for 112 yards and a touchdown on 11-for-15 passing in a quarter-and-a-half.

“He was spot on,” Arians said. “He tried to force one down there. We changed that route a little bit and he kind of got fooled by the receiver. I thought he was outstanding.”

While Stanton missed two deep shots, he played a controlled short game.

The culmination came about midway through the second quarter when Stanton scrambled to his right on a third-and-7 play after Raiders cornerback Sean Smith took away the out pass to Cardinals receiver Jeremy Ross. Stanton couldn’t find his next two options, tight end Troy Niklas or running back Andre Ellington, so he rolled out wide. He finally spotted Niklas, the 6-foot-6 behemoth of a target, who was lurking in the back of the end zone. A moment before Stanton was going to throw the ball away, Niklas came charging toward the goal line “aggressively downhill.” He got to his spot first and Stanton hit him for the score.

“He flashed in front of my eyes,” Stanton said.

After last week’s impressive debut by Gabbert, Saturday was the kind of game Stanton needed.

“You always need this kind of performance,” he said. “It’s much better than not playing well. I’m sure there’s stuff to go back and look at. I know those two throws that I tried to force the ball down the field, sometimes you get greedy, especially in this offense because those kinds of plays present themselves.

“You have to be smart and find the check-down. But I felt good about what I was trying to accomplish and we got points.”

There are the evergreen reasons why Stanton flourished. He knows the offense better than anyone on the team. He’s a veteran. He’s a cerebral. But another reason why Stanton looked as good as he did Saturday night was because “he’s probably healthier than he was last year in training camp,” Arians said.

Stanton said he took his preparation “real serious” during the offseason. He had a plan designed by strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris and stuck with it.

And it paid off.

“That’s what I see in practice every day from OTAs (to now),” Arians said. “He was dynamite in OTAs and has been throughout training camp.”