Kyler Murray: Cardinals to throw ‘a couple wrinkles’ in vs. Vikings
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals can at least get over the doldrums of preseason NFL football by going home to sleep in their own beds.
No longer posted up at a Glendale hotel with only a quick van ride to State Farm Stadium to break up the monotony of training camp, the Cardinals returned to their Tempe facility Tuesday with the regular players readying for their final tuneup, a Week 3 preseason game Saturday at the Minnesota Vikings.
This week, they even get to — insert your sarcastic gasp here — prepare for their opponent.
“Kind of feels a lot different,” quarterback Kyler Murray said. “Actually, we got a couple wrinkles in the gameplan this week, treating it like a real game week.
“We won’t be running the same, like, five plays we have been.”
Last Thursday night, the first team offense and defense each got whipped by the Oakland Raiders in front of an ESPN audience. Oakland head coach Jon Gruden and especially defensive coordinator Paul Guenther showed their hand; Raiders blitzes and disguises combined with Arizona’s pre-snap flags foiled the Cardinals’ first four drives.
Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Murray said there will be more gameplanning against Minnesota’s defense, which runs one of the more complex schemes in the NFL.
Not all the covers will come off Kingsbury’s spread offense — just enough to match up with the Vikings.
“I think we’ve targeted Week 3, just like most NFL teams, as, you know, the point of preseason where you want to work your processes and work your installations to an extent, and do some different things,” Kingsbury said Tuesday. “It’s still going to be, you know, not as complex as we want to be, but I would just say we worked out processes this week more as gameplanning goes.”
Arizona has thus far stayed far away from showing their tempo and their counters on offense.
Defensively, they’ve been similarly bland.
That bit them most in a 33-26 loss Thursday against an aggressive Raiders team. The Cardinals fell behind 26-0 before the second and third teams ate into the deficit by the end of the game.
Arizona players and Kingsbury mostly shrugged it off but Murray suggested that pointed interviews by Oakland’s players and coaches, plus sharp criticism from analysts after the fact, wasn’t completely shuttered out of the Cardinals’ locker room.
Maybe just a little bit of stepping on the gas pedal and flashing what’s under the hood of Kingsbury’s offense will lead to a little more optimism before the final week of the preseason.
“It gets frustrating when there might not be anything open and we go out there and we looked like we looked last week, and you know, people are talking about you,” Murray said when asked about the limited playbook. “We were running literally like six or seven plays.”
— It turns out Murray has followed the Vikings since he was a kid. The quarterback grew up playing on a team called the Vikings, which led to him become a fan. He said his Minnesota idols included receiver Randy Moss, quarterback Daunte Culpepper and quarterback Brett Favre.
— Arizona found out Tuesday that rookie fourth-round pick Hakeem Butler suffered an avulsion fracture in his hand. The Cardinals aren’t sure whether that will put him on the IR, but that is a likely option as the team searches for trustworthy wideouts. As it stood, Butler appeared on the outside looking in as a regular player. Still, the loss hurts.
“I think it’s too early to tell, but if that’s the direction it has to go, obviously that’s unfortunate,” Kingsbury said of a potential IR stint for the Iowa State product. “We wouldn’t be able to develop him like we wanted.”
— Kingsbury also dropped this notable hint that Arizona will continue evaluating all avenues to enter the regular season with a strong receiver room: “I think we’ve seen some bright spots from that group and hope to continue to see that these last two preseason games. (General manager Steve Keim) made mention of it earlier in this week, having that first claim, there’s going to be some really good players out there (when rosters are cut down to 53 players). So it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.”
— Left guard Justin Pugh went through the open warmup portion of practice and will be evaluated Tuesday and Wednesday before the team decides if he can play against the Vikings.