Camp K report: Kyler Murray working out kinks a week through camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray and several of his younger offensive teammates played in a college offense similar to what Kliff Kingsbury hopes to bring to the NFL.
The 2019 first overall pick did so at Oklahoma. Running backs David Johnson and Chase Edmonds played in similar spread offenses at smaller schools Northern Iowa and Fordham, respectively. Second-year receiver Christian Kirk ran a spread when he was teammates with Murray at Texas A&M and did so after the quarterback transferred out of College Station.
When Murray on Thursday discussed one older player who hasn’t played in a true spread offense, you couldn’t help but chuckle.
“As far as offense goes, he’s been in a couple offenses. He’s still learning the little things about this offense. He’s coming along really well,” the rookie said about 16-year vet and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.
“By time we get to the season, he’ll be ready to go with everything, we’ll be on the same page. But so far, it’s been pretty smooth.”
Murray began this journey with the most shallow learning curve, at least when it comes to operating within this offense.
He and Kingsbury have tweaked some language, but otherwise it’s been on his teammates, even those like Fitzgerald, to play catch-up.
Still, there will be bumps in the road. Here are five things we’ve learned about Murray as he prepares to adjust to the NFL — and as his teammates learn Kingsbury’s offense.
1. New way of calling plays
Murray used to worry about just himself.
Spread offenses at the college level generally require an array of signs and signals relayed from the sidelines to each position group. In the NFL, Murray and head Kingsbury are communicating directly through their helmet and headset.
That means Murray is listening to Kingsbury, relaying instructions to his teammates and making adjustments based on the defensive look he’s reading all at once. He’s importing and exporting information simultaneously until the headsets cut off automatically with 15 seconds left on the play clock.
“Coach Kingsbury is talking in my ear, and you’re trying to focus on saying things to the line and giving signals to receivers,” Murray said. “That’s probably the biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with coming from college.”
Considering how quickly Arizona has been operating, the 15-second cutoff might not even become a problem.
The Cardinals have easily been able to get off snaps within 30-35 seconds of one another. Of course, practices haven’t included officials dictating the pace by standing over the ball.
2. He’s not shy about running it — so far
Arizona hasn’t been shy about allowing Murray and even backup Brett Hundley to pull the ball a week into training camp.
That’s not a surprise, but without heavy contact, the team hasn’t been holding Murray back to protect him.
“I want him to play the game when he’s out there, treat every rep like a game,” Kingsbury said. “We know he can run, he knows he can run, so he wants to get through reads (in camp) and do some different things. For the most part, I think he’s reacting as if he would in a game.
“He’s been that player his entire life. When he was 7 years old playing quarterback he could outrun everybody.”
That is expected to help both the passing and running game. Edmonds even likened Murray to a blocker on the field because of his RPO abilities that freezes defenders in the box.
3. There have been mistakes
Murray’s accuracy and velocity have stood out so far in camp. That part isn’t surprising.
Still, there’s a recalibration to the speed of defensive backs that will take time for the rookie to get through.
“I think that’s probably one of the biggest adjustments. Windows are tighter, you got to anticipate things a lot more, but that makes it more fun,” Murray said. “In college, dudes be wide open, it be really easy, stuff like that.”
On Thursday, Murray rolled out of the pocket on an extended play but got picked off by Patrick Peterson, who streaked across the middle of the field to get in front of a laser that the rookie attempted to get through heavy traffic.
Murray admitted that Peterson, who has two picks on the rookie so far, has gotten the best of him in camp. He also was quite aware of what Peterson told reporters about him last week.
“Very, very special, but he have to look away from No. 21,” Peterson said after his first interception of Murray.
The rookie admitted he will need to protect the ball better and test DBs less once the regular season begins.
4. A confident presence
Murray is certain in all of his throws, even those that get picked off.
Despite the mistakes, his demeanor hasn’t changed.
“Cool, calm, collected,” Edmonds said. “The thing I love about Kyler, he doesn’t say much but when he comes into that huddle, man, it’s just a feeling of, you know, he’s got that swagger to him, that confidence.”
The confidence shows in how Murray attacks one-on-one battles in the midst of full team drills.
Many of his intercepted passes have come on tipped balls or contested throws. But so many of his accurate passes have also been completed. The rookie appears to be trusting his receivers, Fitzgerald and Kirk especially, to make plays on 50-50 balls.
“He’s definitely throwing (50-50 balls),” said receiver Kevin White, who is running with the first team. “Our biggest job of course is make the play. The more chemistry we build with him, the more he’ll throw.”
5. Pressure isn’t too much for him
Asked if he’s noticed that Las Vegas has called him the NFL Rookie of the Year favorite or whether the hype has become too much, Murray unsurprisingly shrugged it all off.
“They got to put somebody as the favorite,” Murray said. “I really don’t feel it honestly. I see it — we’re at dinner, and TVs on and we all see it. Other than that, I don’t pay too much attention to it.
“I got to go out and play well and if I don’t then people are going to be mad, I’m going to be mad, everyone’s going to be mad. My focus is to play well.”
— Receiver Andy Isabella on Thursday caught a tipped, contested touchdown throw from backup quarterback Brett Hundley but came down awkwardly. His right leg was examined and he exited the practice walking with a slight limp.