NFL careers are more difficult than many imagine. Ricky Stanzi, a fifth-round pick who had a successful tenure at Iowa, finds himself as a backup behind Matt Cassel. However, Stanzi is in a better spot today compared to where he was one year ago.
Stanzi was behind Cassel as well as Tyler Palko in 2011. Despite having limited knowledge of the Kansas City Chiefs offense late in the season, Kyle Orton earned the nod over Stanzi. He did not take a single snap in any regular-season games.
Stanzi's rookie season was not an easy one to take in. He was a rookie dealing with the lockout while sitting behind multiple quarterbacks throughout the season. Although Cassel is set as the Chiefs starting quarterback, Stanzi is no longer sitting. He's looking to make a big jump in his career.
Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel announced Wednesday that Stanzi will be the first quarterback to come off the bench this Saturday on the road when the Chiefs face the St. Louis Rams.
Stanzi is currently competing against Brady Quinn for the top backup spot for the Chiefs. Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, Quinn worked with the second-team offense while Stanzi was with the third-team offense. Both backup quarterbacks struggled to make an impression.
But can the two quarterbacks work well with a different unit and learn what their role might be as we get closer to the regular season?
Stanzi knows that he is not projected to be the starting quarterback going into the season opener. However, if he can show Crennel, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and his teammates that he is capable of leading a second-team NFL offense in a preseason game, the opportunity of one day starting in the NFL becomes more realistic. If Cassel suffers another injury, the team would feel more confident with Stanzi as their quarterback.
Saturday's game against the Rams could be the most important game of Stanzi's young professional career. It holds a lot of meaning for his future and whether or not he can advance his role and his position on the depth chart with the Chiefs.
Stanzi may even get a chance to play with a couple of the starters this weekend. The more envisioned play from Chiefs fans would be to see Stanzi throw a completion—or better yet, a touchdown pass—to his old college teammate, Tony Moeaki.
By the time Saturday's game is over, it is possible that we learn more about Stanzi and what kind of a quarterback he is in the NFL.