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Cardinals, officials still talking out fake hand-clap snaps

Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals watches a replay on the big screen with line judge Jeff Seeman #45 during the second quarter of an NFL preseason game against the Oakland Raiders at State Farm Stadium on August 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Skeptics point to the oversimplified philosophies of Kliff Kingsbury’s college spread offense, wondering if they can succeed in the NFL.

The Arizona Cardinals head coach and his players remained confident that their vanilla preseason scheme isn’t a worry after a 33-26 loss to the Oakland Raiders in the second week of the preseason.

But logistically, there’s at least one hurdle to clear.

Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray and the Arizona offense committed five penalties in four series that all died quickly. Two of them were false start flags on Murray for his fake hand-claps.

The Cardinals have used a clap as a signal to hike the ball and remain in discussions with the NFL officials about what is legal and what is not regarding fake claps used by the quarterback to get defenders to jump offsides.

“Apparently I was just too abrupt. Not smooth enough as far as bringing my hands together goes,” Murray said Thursday after the loss.

“To me it’s just like any other hard count. It’s the defense’s job to watch the ball so it really doesn’t make sense to me.”

He and Kingsbury added that the Cardinals have and will continue to be in communication with the league about what’s allowed. Pregame footage broadcast by ESPN during the game showed Kingsbury in a conversation with the lead official while discussing the legality and motions of the clapping snaps.

“I think it’s first time for certain officials to see it,” Arizona’s head coach added. “We’ve been in the contact with the league and had a great conversation on it, and we’re going to work on it and make sure we’re on the same page.

“It’s just been an ongoing conversation of what you can and cannot do with your movement and so we’re working through that.”

By the NFL rulebook, “any quick abrupt movement by a single offensive player, or by several offensive players in unison, which simulates the start of the snap, is a false start.”

The Cardinals’ issues went beyond the hand-clap snaps.

They finished with 14 penalties for 108 yards on the evening after drawing nine flags for 73 yards in the first preseason game, a win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I think just the biggest takeaway from tonight is just the penalties,” right guard J.R. Sweezy said. “We’re doing it to ourselves. It’s a positive and a negative because negatively, we saw what we did tonight. Positively, we can fix it.

“It just throws you off your whole gameplan. You’re playing behind the sticks, you’re off schedule, you have to call different plays — blah, blah, blah. We’ll clean it up. It’ll look a lot different.”


— Backup quarterback Brett Hundley steadied the Cardinals with the second unit, going 10-of-15 for 139 yards and a touchdown. For the second week in a row, Hundley connected on a deep ball with Trent Sherfield, a 40-yard strike that got Arizona on the scoreboard with 3:45 in the first half after the Raiders built a 26-0 lead.

“That back left corner, man. For some reason, every time we’re around, watch out,” Hundley said. “For us to sort of have two games back-to-back, throw in the same spot, it’s a good feeling.”

— Second-round pick Andy Isabella debuted after missing last week’s game with a minor knee injury and led the Cardinals with 59 receiving yards on one catch, a 59-yard contested deep ball thrown by Charles Kanoff.

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