TEMPE – Just four days after beating San Francisco on the road, the Arizona Cardinals face both a mental and physical test on Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Coach Bruce Arians said the team is expecting a close, physical game in a division rivalry that has produced plenty recently. Monday’s practice was a walk-through, and he said there is extra emphasis on trying to get everybody in playing shape, accelerating the timeline between games.
“Everybody knows Thursday night football is a reality so you deal with it,” he said.
The team will rely heavily on backup quarterback Drew Stanton, who has been thrown into the starting spot after Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Rams on October 22 in London. Though missing their normal starter and captain, Arians said the skill players and linemen alike all have the utmost trust in their back-up who has been with the team since 2013.
“When Drew steps in the huddle, there is total confidence in the other 10 guys,” Arians said. “They know he knows this offense inside and out, and when he gets a hot hand he can light you up.”
Arians said part of allowing Stanton the opportunity to succeed is keeping him “clean,” or protecting him from the Seahawks’ strong defensive line. Much of this responsibility could lie on running back Adrian Peterson, who carried the ball 37 times for 159 yards Sunday.
Despite the short week, Arians said Peterson’s professionalism and ability to get himself game-ready could allow the 11-year veteran to have a similar workload Thursday, especially because he said the 49ers and Seahawks play similar defensive schemes.
That reliability and work ethic, paired with immense talent, is exactly what Stanton said impressed him the first time he saw Peterson on the field.
“He came in after the Tampa Bay game Monday morning, and he had a box like this tall,” Stanton said, putting his hand up shoulder-height. “And he jumped on it. He was doing box jumps, and me and Carson (Palmer) were like, ‘Who is doing this?’”
“To be able to do what he’s doing, and at the level of how he’s playing, it’s amazing,” Arians said.
Peterson is not the only veteran Stanton has relied on in his preparation for this game, however. Carson Palmer, in his 15th year, has compiled over 46,000 yards and 294 passing touchdowns and has been key for Stanton in both his wisdom and extensive experience in the league, and could play a major role in a tough game on short rest.
“Especially somebody in my position, that’s a career backup stepping into a role like this, there’s lots of moving pieces. So I’ve got a good recipe of how I want to operate, but just having him, that extra vote of confidence (is valuable),” Stanton said.