Pocket-passing Kyler Murray doesn’t care who is at QB for Panthers
TEMPE, Ariz. — Cam Newton doesn’t appear likely to play Sunday at State Farm Stadium.
Sidelined through Wednesday with a re-injured mid-foot sprain, the Carolina Panthers quarterback looks destined to sit as his team visits the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.
There go the storylines about Newton, a very large but injury prone Heisman-winning dual-threat quarterback, facing Kyler Murray, a very short Heisman-winning quarterback whose explosive running instincts stray on the opposite side of the “looking-for-contact” meter.
Don’t worry, though.
Newton’s potential absence leaves more low-hanging fruit to be picked.
Panthers backup quarterback Kyle Allen is a former Texas A&M Aggie and before that a fellow No. 1 quarterback recruit out of high school, just like Murray.
Let’s go back to college. Allen earned the starting quarterback gig at Texas A&M midway through the 2014 season and lost it to Murray the next year; Allen then gained it back before 2015 ended.
Both players transferred after that season — Allen to Houston, where he struggled, and Murray to Oklahoma, where he won the biggest award in college football.
So how about your old teammate, Kyler?
“I really don’t care,” Murray told a briefly stunned group of reporters Wednesday. “I’m just kidding. We went to school together, we played together.
“I don’t really have control over who starts over there. That’s their deal. Whoever is their quarterback is their quarterback.”
Murray didn’t allude to any relationship with Allen.
While Cardinals receiver and former Texas A&M teammate Christian Kirk expressed excitement for Allen despite being on the opposing team this week — they speak about once a week — Murray would only say he’s never had a hard time sharing a quarterback room with a teammate.
“No,” he said. “I did it fine at Oklahoma. I think it just depends on the guys that you have.”
Allen lent little more detail about the quarterbacks’ relationship when he spoke to reporters in Carolina, only going as far as laughing off the notion there was “bad blood” between the two, according to Panthers.com.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had bad blood with a quarterback in any room, ever,” Allen said, according to the team website. “That’s always a storyline that likes to get portrayed. The more you sit in the QB room and be around quarterbacks, the respect is there. That was always there between us.”
Murray called their time spent in College Station, Texas, a “tough situation.” Allen referred to it as “an interesting year,” suggesting he and Murray grew from the experience and at their next stops.
Anonymously sourced reports indicated both transfers were spurred on by then-head coach Kevin Sumlin’s staff, its use of the quarterbacks and uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff’s job stability.
But to be clear, unlike his teammate Kirk, Murray doesn’t seem to be excited if he and Allen face off on opposing sidelines this Sunday.
“I really don’t care. That — if he starts — that is my answer to that one,” Murray said. “I don’t care.”
QB run game yet to be utilized
If you watched the Cardinals’ open training camp practices or their team scrimmage, you would’ve assumed Arizona would be running the ball with their dynamic quarterback a bit more to begin 2019.
That hasn’t been the case.
Murray has six carries for 17 yards so far, a year after he surpassed 1,000 yards on 140 carries (7.2 yards per rush) with 12 touchdowns in his single season at Oklahoma.
“I couldn’t tell you that,” Murray said of why he’s not gotten going in the run game. “If the opportunity presents itself then, you know, you kind of feel of the game, how is it going. But for the most part (the Lions) had a lot of pressure on us, and Week 2, (the Ravens) did too.”
Only a few times have the Cardinals put Murray in obvious positions to run by design.
Instead, Murray has made strides sitting or shifting around the pocket.
He’s completed 57% of his passes for two touchdowns to one interception and is averaging 7.0 yards per attempt. Murray has looked confident doing so.
None of this was surprising to passing game coordinator Tom Clements, who said Murray’s willingness to remain in the pocket was one of the first things that stood out when scouting the eventual No. 1 pick.
Murray’s pocket-passing ways are also not surprising to Carolina head coach Ron Rivera, who this week is facing an 0-3 start if Arizona’s offense improves enough to lead the team to a victory.
“When he was in college, he’s not looking to run, he’s looking to throw the ball downfield,” Rivera said Wednesday. “I think people have to understand that he plays the way he plays.
“When you watch him on tape from college until now, he’s an opportunistic runner but at the same time, he’s going to hold onto the ball and look downfield.”