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After educational 2014, football finally slows down for Drew Stanton

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton spent the first few months of the offseason studying game film of himself.

It was the first time in his eight-year career that he had put enough snaps on tape to get a sense of what he was doing right and wrong. He saw what routes he understood and the ones he needed to work on. He watched himself in specific situations and learned where he could improve.

It all paid off during OTAs.

While Stanton was running the first-team offense during 11-on-11 drills in place of Carson Palmer, he experienced a highly sought-after phenomenon in all sports but difficult to attain: The game finally slowed down for him.

"It's light years ahead of where I was," Stanton told ESPN. "Knowing the offense and sitting in (the quarterback's room) and being able to tell you what you should be doing in the film room and on the chalk board is one thing, but when you get out there, you can apply it and you see the benefits of it when you can pick a protection up, change it and then throw a touchdown.

"It's like, 'OK, this is starting to be where I want it to be.' It's slowing down. That just comes through experience. You can't replicate that in any way, shape or form besides just getting out there and doing it. That was invaluable for me."

With his third training camp in Arizona less than two weeks away, Stanton might not see the field as much as he did in 2014 again. But it's a position he's accepted. After last season, when he went 5-3 and threw 1,711 yards and seven touchdowns in place of Palmer, who missed 10 games with shoulder and knee injuries, Stanton is better equipped to take over the offense on a snap's notice.

Prior to last season, Stanton had played just 12 games with four starts in seven seasons. He went 1,365 days in between regular-season appearances.

But the time he spent watching film and studying his starting quarterbacks with Detroit and Indianapolis was the foundation for the football education Stanton received on the fly last season. Without it, the game would never have slowed down for the 31-year-old.

"It took eight years but it took a lot of studying and a lot of preparation that went into that," he said. "I think it comes at a certain point in time for everybody. When they play, it slowly starts to make sense to everybody -- why you do stuff, how you use stuff and within this offense, really, it's just a given play.

"Now I know exactly what I'm looking for, if I can take a shot, if I shouldn't take a shot, or where my outlets are."