Nathan Stanley might be the best rookie quarterback no one has heard of in the Arena Football League, and he's likely to get a chance to make people stand up and notice.
SaberCats starter Russ Michna suffered concussionlike symptoms during San Jose's 64-34 season-opening victory over the Portland Thunder on Monday. He might not be ready to play in Sunday's 5 p.m. home opener against the Philadelphia Soul.
Michna was hit hard just before halftime and replaced by Stanley, who was 8 of 14 with three touchdowns in the second half.
"The coaches told me to be ready," Stanley said. "After the trainers evaluated him, they decided to err on the side of caution. I was ready. I knew I was going to play, but I didn't expect to play so soon."
Michna has been held out of practice for the week, and SaberCats coach Darren Arbet said he wouldn't know the status of his starter until Michna passes a series of tests.
"When you're dealing with head injuries, you want to be extremely cautious," Arbet said. "Russ gave an interview at halftime, but he didn't feel right."
Michna said he felt good Friday. "Not as good as I want to be, but not too bad," he said.
Arbet feels comfortable with whomever plays against the Soul, who knocked off the SaberCats in San Jose late last season.
"Nathan is big, strong and he can throw the ball in a tight spiral," Arbet said. "He's got ice water in his veins. He didn't get rattled."
Arbet and Stanley credited the offensive line, which includes four-year veteran Rich Ranglin, three-year veteran George Bussey and Jordan Mudge, in his second year. Rookies Ray Feinga and Jeff Nady are part of the rotation.
"I had a lot of help from the offensive line and the wide receivers," said Stanley, who played at Southeastern Louisiana. "I still have a lot of work to do, a lot to learn."
Stanley said Michna has helped with his learning curve against Philadelphia, which reached the Arena Bowl championship game in each of the past two seasons.
"They can rush the quarterback," Arbet said. "They have one of the best defensive backs in the league in Rayshaun Kizer, and they can score. We have our work cut out for us."