Cardinals to start QB Blaine Gabbert against Texans

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Blaine Gabbert will be the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback Sunday in place of Drew Stanton against the Houston Texans, coach Bruce Arians announced after Friday's practice.

Arians said he'll decide before the game Sunday if Stanton, who injured his knee against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 9, can back up Gabbert.

Matt Barkley, who Arizona signed Monday, will be the Cardinals backup if Stanton can't play. Stanton was officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game. He was a limited participant in practice Friday as he was on Wednesday and Thursday.

Earlier this week, Arians expressed his confidence in Gabbert if he was named the starter. Arians said Gabbert's understanding of the Cardinals' offense has been his largest area of growth this season. Sunday will be Gabbert's first start since Week 5 of last season, when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. Gabbert is 9-31 as a starter and is playing for his eighth head coach and seventh offensive coordinator in seven NFL seasons. He's completed 56 percent of his passes in his career for 7,351 yards, 38 touchdowns and 37 interceptions.

But not much in the Cardinals' offense is expected to change with Gabbert behind center, players said throughout the week. They'll run the same routes and use the same concepts, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

"I think we're comfortable with him," Fitzgerald said.

One major difference with Gabbert, however, will be his mobility.

"He likes to get out of the pocket," Fitzgerald said. "There should be more extended plays, I would say some scramble drills, some opportunities to maybe hit some things on broken plays if things break down, so that's something you can also add in there.

"Blaine's solid. He's had experience. He's started."

Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said the reps Gabbert has taken in practice "have been good," but Goodwin doesn't want to see Gabbert on the move all that much.

"Me, personally, I don't want the quarterback to have to move," Goodwin said. "I want them to be able to stand in the pocket or push the pocket and throw the ball. When they start scrambling and running, try to buy time, that makes me scared because that's when most of the seriously vicious hits come."

Arians won't take that aspect of Gabbert's game away from him, he said, especially if it's Gabbert's "natural instinct" to run.

Another difference with Gabbert will be how he throws his deep balls; he is more like Stanton in that regard than Palmer, Arians said.

"I don't know if there's anybody that compares to Carson that I've ever seen," Arians said. "But Drew and he both throw a flatter, harder deep ball. They can work on it. Blaine has long range. But again, accuracy long is a different thing."