Choose Your Weapon: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray Spreading Targets Around

DeAndre Hopkins - Arizona Cardinals

Getty Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins runs with the ball after making a catch against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, September 19, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

As Kyler Murray piles up the passing yards in 2021, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback isn’t being picky about who’s on the receiving end.

DeAndre Hopkins was Arizona’s leading receiver in Week 1 in Tennessee. In Week 2, rookie Rondale Moore was the top target against Minnesota.

“We all bring a different dynamic,” said receiver Christian Kirk, who made big receptions in both games to help the Cardinals improve to 2-0. “It’s just the ability for us all to win our one-on-one individual matchups. That’s what you’re seeing is just guys going out there and getting open.”

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Six Cardinals have caught passes from Murray this season, and all have been targeted between eight and 13 times. Here’s how the Arizona QB has spread the ball around through the first two games:

  • Rondale Moore: 11 catches (13 targets), 182 yards, one touchdown.
  • DeAndre Hopkins: 10 catches (12 targets), 137 yards, three TDs.
  • Christian Kirk: Eight catches (nine targets), 135 yards, two TDs.
  • Maxx Williams: Seven catches (eight targets), 94 yards.
  • Chase Edmonds: Nine catches (nine targets), 72 yards.
  • A.J. Green: Five catches (12 targets), 69 yards, one TD.

“There’s just so many weapons,” Kirk told reporters Tuesday, September 21.

Now in his fourth season with the Cardinals, the hometown favorite is part of a deep and talented receiving corps that has caused problems for opponents so far. After two games, Arizona ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards with 344.5 per game. Only the Las Vegas Raiders (408.5 per game) have been better.

“We take it upon ourselves to go out there and be the best,” said Kirk, 24, who hails from Scottsdale, Arizona, and played at Saguaro High School.

And they don’t seem too concerned with who gets the most balls thrown their way.

“There’s no egos,” Kirk said. “I’m just really happy with how we’re able to come together and play for each other.”

Rookie Receiver Off to Strong Start

Moore has been sensational in his first two games in the NFL, leading the Cardinals in catches (11) and receiving yards (182). Arizona’s second-round pick (49th overall) in the 2021 NFL Draft leads all rookies in receiving yards and is tied for 10th among all players.

“He’s definitely a confident player, and he’s obviously confident in what he’s able to do,” Kirk said. “When you have quick and early success, it helps with your confidence level.”

Moore, 21, had a huge day against the Vikings, making seven catches for 114 yards — including a 77-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. After the game, the former Purdue star was all business when asked about his performance.

“I’m just trying to go to work every day and do my job,” he said.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury called Moore “a talented young player who’s ascending.”

“He’s been a weapon so far,” Kingsbury told reporters on Monday, September 20.

Hopkins Shut Out After First Quarter

One weapon Kingsbury said the Cardinals didn’t use enough against the Vikings was Hopkins.

The four-time All-Pro receiver had four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown — all on Arizona’s first two drives of the game.

Hopkins’ sliding grab in the end zone with 5:49 left in the first quarter was his final catch of the game. It was another broken play that resulted in a touchdown for the Cardinals, with Murray on the move and Hopkins working to free himself from longtime Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The Minnesota defense was keying on Hopkins, often doubling the star receiver, Kingsbury said. Still, the Cardinals coach said it was a mistake to let the Vikings take away one of their main weapons, and he’s focused on making sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We’ve still got to find a way to get him the ball more. He’s such a dynamic playmaker for us, and I did a poor job in the second half of getting him the ball,” Kingsbury said.

Murray echoed the need to keep Hopkins involved, telling reporters after the game: “He is who he is. We’ve got to get him the ball.”

Cardinals WR Antoine Wesley Returns to Practice

Murray has another target to throw to — at least in practice — as the Cardinals welcomed back wide receiver Antoine Wesley from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, September 21.

Wesley, now in his second year out of Texas Tech, has been away from the team since a positive test on September 10.

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