The Cardinals will start rookie John Navarre as they try to snap a two-game losing streak when they visit the Lions.
Navarre, a seventh-round draft pick, will become Arizona’s third starting quarterback in the last four games. Detroit, meanwhile, will stick with Joey Harrington despite its problems on offense.
Navarre, who never has taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game, will make his debut in the state where he was a three-year starter for the University of Michigan.
“Isn’t that the American dream?” Cardinals coach Dennis Green said. “Isn’t the American dream all about opportunity? If one guy hasn’t worked out and another guy hasn’t worked out, why shouldn’t the other guy get a chance? And I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. I think he’ll do fine.”
Green benched Shaun King after two starts and elevated Navarre over Josh McCown, who had the job for the first nine games. King threw an interception and had just 119 yards in a 13-3 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.
The 6-foot-6 Navarre, the 202nd player chosen in the draft, has been working almost exclusively with the scout team and has been inactive in all 11 games for the Cardinals. Green said McCown would be the backup, with King demoted to third string after the Cardinals scored just 13 points in his two starts.
“As a backup, you want to prepare as a starter each week,” Navarre said. “I’m prepared. I’ve been preparing since I’ve been here so if a situation like this presents itself, I’m going to be ready.”
Green also said Emmitt Smith would be out two to three weeks with a sprained big left toe, and that undrafted rookie Larry Croom would start at running back Sunday. That means the Arizona offense will have rookies at quarterback, running back, center (Alex Stepanovich) and wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald).
Arizona has lost two straight following a two-game winning streak.
After a 4-2 start, Detroit has lost its last five games and ranks 31st in total offense. Lions coach Steve Mariucci isn’t ready to give up on the season, though.
“Last year, we lost six in a row and bounced back with two straight wins,” he said. “I expect this team to keep fighting and to play hard. It’s been tough, but I know these guys, and they are going to want to finish strong.”
Harrington will remain the Lions’ starting quarterback despite the offense failing to score a touchdown against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. Harrington was pulled during the second half in favor of McMahon, who saw his first game action this season.
McMahon was 11-of-15 for 77 yards, and he threw an interception in the end zone on Detroit’s last offensive play. Harrington, who has thrown two touchdowns and three interceptions in his last four starts, was 14-of-23 for 156 yards against the Colts.
McMahon will be a free agent at the end of the season. Mariucci wants to see what he can do in a game situation, but isn’t ready to do it when the Lions still have something to play for.
Return specialist Eddie Drummond was lost for the season Thursday with a shoulder injury. He was one of the team’s top scoring threats, recording three of the team’s four touchdowns in games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings.