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Cardinals keeping offense under wraps, but hope it to be ‘explosive’

Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray takes a drink after stretching out prior to running drills at the team's NFL football training facility, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Cardinals, understandably, are revealing very little about what their offense is going to look like in 2019.

What good would it do head coach Kliff Kingsbury or quarterback Kyler Murray to reveal to the media some of the things people can expect to see? In the NFL, deception and surprise are some of the tools of the trade.

That’s why in interviews throughout voluntary OTAs and mandatory mini-camp, Kingsbury and Murray have been tight-lipped. But they have been willing to share some insight about the offense when pressed about it, like when Murray was asked this week if he had a nickname for the offense and he said no, then conceded, “explosive.”

A lot of that explosiveness begins with Murray himself.

“He’s one of those unique players who has that great feel for, ‘Hey, I can hang in the pocket,’ and he loves to beat you from the pocket, but, ‘If I’m going to go, I’m going to go,'” Kingsbury told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Thursday. “But it’s not a deal where he’s over-running or not getting through his reads. He’s going to process things, he’s going to see things, and then if it’s time to go, he’s got that innate sense to make it happen.”

The challenge of keeping everything a secret until Week 1 may be especially present in the preseason, when Kingsbury will try to get meaningful reps for his players while not showing opponents what they’re up to.

“I think we have to maximize our time during practice, during the week,” Kingsbury said. “We want to have great evaluation on our players throughout the preseason and those games are a great time to do that, but we also want to make sure we’re running stuff that they can handle and play at a high speed and don’t want to give away too much.”

There’s even been some mixed signals as to just how complicated the offense will be, as Kingsbury used the phrase “illusion of complexity.”

“I think it’s more how you want it to appear to the defense,” Kingsbury said. “It’s concepts that as an offense we’ve repped thousands of times, and we may add some bells and whistles and motions and shifts and different things, but our guys are going to know the base of the concept and have a lot of confidence in operating and executing that play.”

Murray said the offense “looks simple until you’re in it,” while running back David Johnson said it’s “simpler” when he joined Doug & Wolf earlier this week, saying that it fits everyone’s skillset well.

“It is simpler, and I think that’s going to help us run faster and move faster and not have to think so much on the field,” Johnson said.

Speaking of Johnson, the running back can be a threat as a pass-catcher, and that may add an interesting wrinkle to the Cardinals offense, which features multiple players that are known for versatility.

“We’ve got figure out exactly what he does the best and we’re going to play to his strengths,” Kingsbury said of Johnson. “But you watch him run the routes, and his hands are phenomenal. He’s a tough matchup for anybody trying to cover him, whether it be a safety or a linebacker. He can really run routes and then finish at the top of them.”

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