Cardinals rookie quarterback will make his NFL debut tonight in a home matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers (10 p.m. Eastern time, NFL Network). Last year’s Heisman winner was taken with the No. 1 pick in this past April’s NFL Draft.
First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury immediately made Murray the starter back in May OTA’s. He wanted to eliminate any uncertainty about the direction of his football team from the get-go.
“Anytime there is uncertainty at that position, it can be tough on the psyche of a lot of players and a lot of coaches and a lot of GMs and owners and everybody else,” Kingsbury said to the Cardinals’ website. “To have a guy we believe in to be the future of the franchise, it’s exciting times.”
Despite Murray’s preseason debut awaiting at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, he knows his goals for the evening are fairly modest.
“Complete a couple balls, maybe score a touchdown or something,” he said to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I don’t really have too many nerves right now.”
Kingsbury doesn’t have any set number of snaps planned for Murray, telling the Associated Press that he wants Murray to have a “positive outlook” when he exits his debut.
”Not to say we’re going to feel great when he comes out of the game, but you’d like him to have a positive outlook and have accomplished what we’ve set out to do,” Kingsbury said, “and that’s execute our offense and control what we can control at that position.”
Arizona has drafted a first-round quarterback two years in a row. Josh Rosen was the No. 10 pick in 2018, but after an ineffective first-season, he was traded to Miami to make way for Murray. Sam Bradford split snaps with Rosen last year, which didn’t allow receivers such as Christian Kirk to feel comfortable with the offense.
“Now, you can really hone in on (Kyler’s) comfort zones and what he likes, what he doesn’t like. It’s that constant communication with everyone in the room. Last year, you might have, ‘Sam likes this, but Josh likes this.’ A little bit of butting up of ideas. It’s been better knowing he’s the guy.”
Kyler Murray to Be ‘More Cautious’ in Live Game Action
Murray not only earned his Heisman last year with his arm, but his quick feet. He gained 1,001 yards on the ground, which is something he is bringing to Cardinals practice. He is approaching tonight’s game with more caution.
“In practice I just let it go … if it gets out of hand — which it usually doesn’t — but if it does, then I’ll kind of lay back and make sure it ends up being a decent day if it did get bad,” he said. “During preseason, I’ll treat it like a regular game, go through reads and if it’s not there, don’t let it go or don’t trigger it.”
Per Arizona Sports, he was “quick to pull the ball and run” in a recent practice. With the Chargers’ top-10 defense from last year on the other side of the ball, even if it’s mostly the backups, there’s no reason to risk Murray’s body for a meaningless exhibition.
After a few series, expect to see a healthy dose of backup quarterbacks Brett Hundley and Charles Kanoff.