Crabtree expected to play as Cardinals visit Ravens, RT still up in air
TEMPE, Ariz. — Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday that he expects receiver Michael Crabtree to be available Sunday for a road game against the Baltimore Ravens, the veteran’s former team.
Crabtree was among the inactives for Arizona’s Week 1 game, a 27-27 tie against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Kingsbury said Crabtree would not play until he is caught up learning the playbook and back into football shape.
With Baltimore a year ago, Crabtree recorded 54 receptions for 607 yards and three scores. The 6-foot-1 wideout recorded just 13 catches for 135 of those yards in the final seven games of 2018, after Baltimore switched from veteran quarterback Joe Flacco to then-rookie Lamar Jackson.
Arizona signed Crabtree on Aug. 21.
The 31-year-old with two 1,000-yard seasons in his career could earn snaps alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, potentially taking time from speedster Damiere Byrd or rookie KeeSean Johnson. In their debut with Arizona Sunday, Johnson recorded five catches for 46 yards, while Byrd added four catches for 42 yards.
Gilbert remains sidelined
Kingsbury ruled projected starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert out for the Week 2 game in Baltimore.
The head coach added that the team is “still working through” whether Gilbert will require a procedure or just needs to rest an injured knee.
Gilbert, who banged up his knee heading into the Week 1 game, was replaced by Justin Murray, a waiver-wire pickup from the weekend before the season opener.
“I thought he did really well considering Thursday night we started cramming the gameplan with him,” Kingsbury said of Murray.
That doesn’t mean Murray will necessarily hang onto his spot. Arizona worked out a group of offensive tackles on Monday as the team considers adding depth to the inexperienced offensive line.
Murray, after all, had only two games of experience heading into Sunday, when he made his first start.
The Cardinals had reason to be impressed with rookie Kyler Murray leading a rally in his debut after Arizona fell behind by 18 points.
Murray finished the day completing 29 of 54 passes for 308 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Kingsbury took much of the blame himself, both in his “over-creative” play-calling and in how Arizona spent the preseason hiding itss offense rather than perfecting a broader portion of the playbook.
But Kingsbury wasn’t shy in pointing out points of improvement for his rookie quarterback.
“I think just trusting his reads and his mechanics and his fundamentals when it does get rough,” he said of what Murray could improve on. “I mean, that’s when you really have to rely on those things. At times, he got out of whack a little bit on those things. That’s normal as a quarterback, when things aren’t going well, you’re going to try to do too much and force some things.
“Once he settled back in, I thought he played at a high level in the fourth quarter.”
— The Cardinals had seen Murray’s clutch abilities before. In scouting the Oklahoma product, the team highlighted the quarterback’s fourth-quarter statistics.
“It’s insane, his numbers,” Kingsbury said. “The completion percentage, the touchdown to interception ratio, the yards per carry — that was something prior to the draft process that we were fascinated by were fourth-quarter stats and what he did in close ballgames.”
— Arizona gave no player a game ball for Kingsbury’s first game as head coach. “Nobody for a tie,” the coach said.
— Kingsbury on what he and Murray were discussing at one point on the Cardinals bench: “Just a lot of, you know, praying, I think at that point. No, it was just trying to make sure we were on the same page. ‘This is what I’m seeing, what do you like? What do you think we can get going with?’ I like to make sure we’re getting things called that he’s comfortable with. That’s really that back-and-forth.”