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Cardinals’ Kingsbury staying fluid on Murray, Johnson preseason snaps

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury talks to the media ahead of the team’s Red and White Practice Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, at State Farm Stadium. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With less than a week before the Arizona Cardinals’ first preseason game of 2019, one of the biggest questions surrounding the team is: How much will some of the offense’s starters, most notably rookie signal caller Kyler Murray, play?

Kliff Kingsbury provided some clarity as to what that may look like Saturday morning.

“I think the goal is for us to get [Murray] out of the game with him feeling good about what went on out there. And so whatever that takes, if it’s three plays, it’ll be three plays. If it’s 10-12 plays, it’ll be 12.

“I think we’ll just figure that out as the game’s going and how he feels and go from there. The main objective is to get good work, have him feel comfortable and feel good about the result.”

While most NFL starting quarterbacks sit for the first preseason game, if not longer, Murray comes in with zero NFL game snaps.

The conundrum leaves Kingsbury and Co. with the task of juggling early comfortability with protecting their QB of the future.

Though the team isn’t necessarily overlooking the preseason, the Cardinals have their sights set for when the games matter in the win-loss column.

Arizona knows it’ll need running back David Johnson to show he still has that gas from his 2016 campaign. But after a wrist injury forced him to miss nearly the entire 2017-18 season — playing just three quarters before dislocating his wrist — Kingsbury is hoping to time it just right on the RB.

“I think we’re all working through that. I know David is feeling really healthy and excited to go and we want to make sure by Game 1 he’s at his peak,” Kingsbury said of Johnson’s usage this preseason. “So whatever it takes to do that, as a staff and with him, we’ll figure that out and go from there.”

One of the last biggest question marks of preseason playing time revolves around an offensive line looking to turn the page from last season.

While injuries are a big concern — Justin Pugh, A.Q. Shipley and D.J. Humphries all missed notable time in 2018, among others — Kingsbury isn’t disregarding the notion of the new-look line staying in the game, with the thought of helping more than just the starting QB on his mind.

“I think you want Brett [Hundley] to get some work behind a really good offensive line as well,” Kingsbury said. “One that he trusts and can play at his best, so we’ll kinda make that decision, but I expect them to play a little bit longer probably.”

There’s no doubt Murray receiving preseason reps is an important step toward his development as an NFL QB, but the same could be said about backup Hundley.

With Murray’s physical dimensions leaving some to believe he could be more susceptible to injury over others, Hundley’s the next man up.

Hundley, who’s spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, may know what to expect in NFL games, but he’s in a new system tailored to his fellow QB. It’s imperative Hundley gets those same type of looks in Kingsbury’s offense in the off-chance he does have to step in at some point this season.

So while fans may be chomping at the bit to get the first glimpse of the Kyler Murray Experience early on this preseason, keep in the mind the show doesn’t truly get started until Sept. 8.

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