Cardinals GM: Crabtree was insurance, Murray’s sacks about experience

Sep 27, 2019, 9:08 AM | Updated: 11:54 pm
Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Crabtree stretches during the team’s practice Wednesday, Sept. 4, 20...
Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Crabtree stretches during the team’s practice Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals knew they would need to play their rookie wide receivers.

After drafting three of them, a hand injury to fourth-round pick Hakeem Butler right before the regular season led general manager Steve Keim to feel nervous about the depth.

So Keim signed veteran Michael Crabtree, giving the receiver group one more established NFL player alongside Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald.

It was peculiar, however, when Arizona released Crabtree this week after a month on the job.

“I think that there’s obviously a lot of questions the fans and media would have about that, but really it comes down to getting opportunity for those young players, guys like KeeSean (Johnson) and Andy Isabella,” Keim told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“I think that it really comes down to getting those guys more reps, getting them on the field and growing with them as players.”

Crabtree finished with four catches in two games played and never did what was expected of him: taking snaps away from Damiere Byrd and Johnson, two players who throughout camp earned reps ahead of Isabella and Butler. The veteran only earned 13 snaps in a Week 3 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

With Byrd sitting out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, losing Crabtree now points to Isabella, Johnson and potentially second-year pro Trent Sherfield taking on bigger roles.

“Sometimes there are things that you do that you consider for insurance purposes,” Keim said. “From a depth standpoint or a numbers standpoint, you want to be in a position where you’re not caught flat-footed. We took a chance (on Crabtree).

“There is a number of signings that you would say are very good signings and there was good reason we did that, and there are some things you sort of chalk up and say hey, we took a shot, we just want to get the young players ready.”

Murray sacks not a concern

Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray took eight sacks through his first two games and eight more last Sunday in a 38-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

By and large, the total can be blamed on a combination of offensive line play and poor decision-making on Murray’s part.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t overly concerned about the hits Murray took, at least in terms of the quarterback’s health or the offensive line play.

“If you look at it, they haven’t been of the violent variety, if you will,” Kingsbury said Wednesday. “There are some things where he’s going down in the pocket, they’re getting a hand on him here and there. Once again, he’s got to learn, when the party’s over, to get rid of it.

“You appreciate the fact that he wants to make every play and bring us back, but there’s no 21-point touchdown passes. It’s just a learning curve that we’re going through.”

Heading into a Week 4 home game against the Seattle Seahawks, Keim views those sacks as a learning opportunity for the No. 1 pick.

“When you say, ‘Kyler Murray, eight sacks,’ I also say, ‘Kyler Murray, experience, and is growing as a player,'” the GM said.

Remembering good times with Carson

Keim owes a large part of his own success as an executive to former Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.

In 2013, the general manager’s first season leading the front office of an NFL team, Keim acquired Palmer in a trade with the Oakland Raiders and paired him with quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians. Together, they put together one of the most successful runs in franchise history.

Arizona will honor Palmer on Sunday at halftime by adding him to its Ring of Honor.

“He is a special person, a special player. It was the perfect storm in a good way when we made that trade for him,” Keim said. “I look up to him in a number of ways, as a person and a dad.

“Looking back on those times and some of the conversions he and I had and the advice that he gave me — I would call Carson when we would either trade or draft players and ask him what he thought because I respected him that much.”

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