Derek Anderson joins the Cardinals after four seasons in Cleveland, where he went from savior to stiff. MATT YORK / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

FLAGSTAFF - Evaluating what Cardinals backup quarterback Derek Anderson brings to the table is a little like eating at a buffet.

There are some items you know you like. Some things you hope you will enjoy and others you aren't quite sure of.

Anderson has size (6 feet 6 inches, 235 pounds), a powerful arm and a goofy personality that he doesn't keep under wraps.

"When you're from a town named Scappoose, Oregon, that pretty much explains itself," said quarterbacks coach Chris Miller, who is from Eugene. "You can't help but be semi-goofy."

What the Cardinals don't know is if Anderson can push Matt Leinart for the starting job, or successfully replace him if the need arises. Anderson's career path charts like a tech stock, reaching amazing highs and stunning lows.

In four seasons with the Browns, he went from savior to stiff in the judgment of fans. In 2007, he started 15 games, helping the Browns to a 10-6 record and making it to the Pro Bowl, due in part to injuries to other quarterbacks.

The following year, however, he was replaced by Brady Quinn, a first-round pick, and the two jostled for the position through 2009. With the Mike Holmgren regime taking over in Cleveland this year the Browns released Anderson, who signed a two-year contract with the Cardinals a week later.

Anderson ripped Browns fans on his way out of town, and later apologized. But there is no question he is happier in Arizona. He runs around in practice like a kid, celebrates small victories in drills and is known to be, uh, a bit creative in his language during workouts.

"Some people might take it the wrong way," Anderson said of his personality. "But that's the way I play my best."

Asked last week what Anderson brought to the quarterbacks' meetings, Leinart smiled and said: "A-D-D. He's a character. He's got a unique personality. He's all over the place. You guys saw him today, he was over there diving on the balls when we're trying to hit buckets."

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has no problem with Anderson's personality, as long as he's serious when it's needed.

Recently, assistant head coach Russ Grimm reminded Whisenhunt that one of their former Redskins teammates, quarterback Mark Rypien, was a clown, too. "But when he was in the huddles, he was as serious as anyone I've ever been around," Whisenhunt said. "That's the balance you have to have.

"The way he (Anderson) plays to the crowd when he's doing some of those drills, that's great. I like that. But when he gets in the huddle, when he's running the drill, his focus has to be on being the quarterback, not a quarterback, the quarterback."

The Cardinals explored other options before signing Anderson. They tried to trade for San Diego backup Charlie Whitehurst, who was dealt to Seattle instead. Some in the organization had interest in former Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, now with the Ravens.

Anderson was the best alternative, and he signed a two-year $7.25 million contract, which included a $2.7 million signing bonus.

Up next

• What: Cardinals at Titans (preseason)

• When: 5 p.m., Monday