The Arizona Cardinals begins the preseason on Thursday with the Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys. With no starters playing or even backup quarterback Drew Stanton, it will be Blaine Gabbert to start at quarterback and play the first half of the game.
This is the beginning of what really matters for Gabbert.
He is known as one of the worst quarterbacks in the league by fans, yet he has all the tools one should have to be successful.
Entering his seventh season in the NFL, it is clear he has a couple of things going his way. He is smart and looks good during practice. That has been the case since he was signed by the Cardinals.
It is the game tape that sometimes is intriguing and other times damning.
But here is the thing: in the Hall of Fame Game, he needs to look good. Why?
One reason is practical. He needs to prove he deserves to be on the team.
The other is bigger. He is a seventh-year quarterback with a lot of starting experience. He was a top 10 pick in the NFL draft. He will go against backups. And while he will be playing alongside backups for the most part, it means he should look like the best player on the field.
Against the Cowboys’ backup defenders, he should look like a starter.
In terms of making the team, he doesn’t have to be great, but he can’t do what he has done in many NFL games — look lost.
The word around the Cardinals is Gabbert is they see him a potentially part of the future.
But if he can’t look good against backups, it won’t be a good look.