Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury era starts in earnest for Cardinals
TEMPE, Ariz. — For the Arizona Cardinals entering the new era of quarterback Kyler Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury, the talk is over, just as the new head coach told his (likely) starting quarterback before drafting him first overall. Now opponents have got to deal with them.
The pleasantries are over with. Now it’s time to work.
A relationship years in the making — Kingsbury recruited Murray out of Allen High School in Texas — began on the field in earnest on Friday as the Cardinals took to the practice fields for rookie mini-camp. In a 25-minute window of the practice open to the media, Murray stretched before the team broke off into position groups.
Kingsbury mentored Murray in basic throwing drills, posing as a mildly enthusiastic pass-rusher before the quarterback began throwing to receivers.
The Cardinals coach admitted he spent most of his time focusing on his quarterback.
“Not bad,” the head coach said of Murray’s first day throwing. “Some familiarity with the system helps. He can really throw it, got a presence about himself. I like how he operated.
“He’s been born and bred to do this. He’s kind of living it out right now, and (the attention) may affect other people but it doesn’t seem to affect him.”
Through just a few meetings with reporters, it’s clear Murray’s mannerisms remain even-keeled and calm. He reminded that there’s not much worth in analyzing the first day working with an entirely new group of coworkers.
Things take time.
“Besides my feet hurting, I feel pretty good,” he said, adding that he’d been wearing a pair of cleats that hadn’t broken in.
What wasn’t as new was his familiarity with the offense. Murray said Kingsbury’s spread offensive system, one branch from the Air Raid tree of many, is similar to the offense run by Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley.
“Today I was pretty comfortable, surprisingly comfortable as far as communication, stuff like that,” the rookie said. “I think that’s helped me out a lot.”
Receiver Andy Isabella was more heavy with his praise.
“Just the way it was thrown, the way it got there, the way it was perfectly placed,” Isabella said. “It doesn’t even look like he’s trying. It’s coming at 100 miles per hour but it’s coming perfect spiral.”
Murray’s goal was about “making everybody comfortable” in Kingsbury’s offense.
“Obviously you’re going to mess some stuff up,” the quarterback said. “Guys aren’t used to his system, what he calls, what he runs and stuff like that, but knowing that with time, it’ll get better.”
The question is: How soon will Murray be ready?
Days after the draft, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim raised eyebrows when he decisively answered whether he expected Murray to start.
“We didn’t draft him one overall to ride the pine,” Keim said on The Rich Eisen Show.
Two days later, Kingsbury seemed less certain, telling The Jim Rome Show, “We’ll see.”
Murray isn’t worried about those expectations. In fact, he didn’t even think the story of Keim’s very sure expectation was true.
“I didn’t believe it when he said it. I kind of saw it but didn’t see a credible source … I didn’t believe it but he told me the other day,” he said.
“I’m just here to work. Obviously would I love to start? Of course.”