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Matt Barkley gets fresh start, familiar offense with Arizona Cardinals

"The last few years have been a little simplified in terms of protections and how the quarterback would handle things," said Matt Barkley of his time in Philadelphia. Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Sometimes change can be good.

Yet sometime changes comes when it's least expected.

When new Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Barkley saw Chip Kelly's name show up on his phone Friday, his heart immediately sank. Barkley had never received that call before.

In the two seasons since the Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in 2013, Barkley had not faced a situation that could have ended with him getting cut or traded. His first year in the NFL was spent strengthening the AC joint in his right throwing shoulder, an injury he suffered while still at USC. Last season, he was healthy as he continued to learn Kelly's fast-paced offense.

He certainly didn't think it would happen this year after battling Tim Tebow for the Eagles' third quarterback spot.

Then Kelly called with the news: Barkley was traded to Arizona.

"I was a bit surprised, no doubt about that," Barkley said. "I never faced that before. Once I kind of realized what was happening and the situation I was going to be in, I really cannot be more excited to be here, to be with these guys and with Carson (Palmer) and coach (Bruce) Arians.

"So, I think it was a good change up for me."

When Barkley made his first trip the Cardinals' practice facility on Saturday, the only person he met was general manager Steve Keim because the rest of the staff was off for Labor Day weekend. He saw Arians for the first time Tuesday morning, when he met the rest of his new teammates.

Barkley is going from a high-tempo, simple offense to a huddle-up, complex scheme. And he couldn't be happier.

"It was different being in Philly for sure," Barkley said. "Different than anything I've ever done and it took a while to get used to the footwork and some of the schemes but this is what I've done the majority of my career."

Barkley said the Eagle's offense wasn't nearly as complex as Arizona's, adding: "The last few years have been a little simplified in terms of protections and how the quarterback would handle things."

Arizona's offense is similar to what Barkley said he ran in high school and at USC, where he graduated as the Trojans' and the Pac-12's all-time leading passer with 12,327 passing yards and 116 touchdowns on 1,001 completions.

With 300 career passing yards in the NFL, he has a while to go until he's throwing for those kinds of stats with the Cardinals -- if he ever does. Barkley was traded for a conditional seventh-round pick. According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Philadelphia gets the pick if Barkley is on Arizona's roster for at least six games.

Forget learning the offense. Barkley missed that. The Cardinals were already into game planning for Week 1 against New Orleans when the team reconvened Tuesday morning.

"It's still kind of like reading Chinese right now," Barkley said.

And Arians knows it won't get easier for him anytime soon.

"He's a very bright guy," Arians said. "(But) it will take a while. If we had to play with him in three weeks, he'd be struggling his ass off and rightfully so."

Even though Barkley seemed to cast a leering eye on Philadelphia's offense, it helped endear him even more to Arians, who said he "really liked" Barkley coming out of USC. Arians saw Barkley continue to throw like he did at USC but was forced to do it on the move. The Cardinals worked Barkley out before the 2013 draft, while Barkley's shoulder was still in the early stages of healing, but Barkley remembered it as a workout to forget.

"I threw terribly," he said.

That was two years ago. Barkley's changed.

"I know I can make all the throws, make all the decisions," he said. "I think it's just a matter of being consistent and showing teams that with decision making and with accuracy that you can move the ball down the field and put points on the board.

"Time will tell."

At 25, Barkley wasn't looking for a fresh start, but Friday's trade brought him to a new team in a new city in a new state with an opportunity to be the Matt Barkley of old.

"I think it's a good time to have one," he said. "It's not like I was looking for one but I think the fact that it happened can do nothing but help my career, in my opinion, right now."