Cardinals CB Byron Murphy Jr. feels more comfortable in 2nd NFL season

Dec 24, 2020, 10:07 AM | Updated: 8:30 pm

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (33) breaks up a pass intended for San Francisco 49er...

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (33) breaks up a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Trent Taylor during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

There’s been no signs of a sophomore slump for Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. this season.

Murphy, who is in his second season in the league out of Washington, said on Tuesday that he’s a lot more comfortable in all aspects of the game this year.

“Your first year, I would say you’re kind of thinking too much there’s a lot of stuff going on,” Murphy said. “But as year two came, getting my playbook down a little bit more, getting all the small things down, knowing my assignment before the ball’s snapped, reading my keys.

“So once you kind of get experience with that, you kind of settle down and just play your game.”

Murphy has played a key role in the Cardinals’ defensive renaissance under second-year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

His sophomore campaign has seen Murphy deflect eight passes and pick up the first two sacks of his young career.

He’s also been around the ball consistently, as Murphy had three passes defensed last week against the Eagles.

“Murphy’s played very well. You can argue that he’s been our most consistent corner the entire season,” Joseph said. “Last year, he took a bunch of snaps as a rookie before he was ready to play, so he took some bumps and bruises, but I think that’s definitely paying off now.

“Murph’s making plays and he’s consistently been a good player each and every week. So that’s fun to watch, and he’s so comfortable in his role, he’s confident, he’s tacking and he’s making plays on the ball and he’s helping us win each week.”

Murphy’s played the third-most snaps of any Cardinals’ defensive player as a rookie last year, an experience that made him more comfortable for this season.

Murphy’s big-play ability has shined through, despite not having an interception through 13 starts this season.

“Defensive backs are on the field to make those plays when they throw the ball in the air. So coming down with either a catch or a pass breakup, that’s something that I’m looking forward to,” Murphy said.

For now, Murphy said his focus is on the San Francisco 49ers, who the Cardinals host in a Week 16 matchup at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

He believes the Cardinals’ defense has improved dramatically from where it was as a unit as a unit some 15 weeks ago, when Arizona beat San Francisco on the road, 24-20.

“I just think as season goes by you learn new things, all the little small details, all that stuff matters,” Murphy said. “So you get through the season, all that stuff slows down, you can see more things.

“I just think the defense as a whole, everybody’s coming together and everyone’s keys are picked up and everything’s coming quicker and faster.”

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