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Less is more: Kyler Murray hoping to only use his legs as a ‘luxury’ in 2021

Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals participates in an off-season workout at Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on June 09, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Quarterback Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals saw a hot start end in an unceremonious 8-8 finish last season.

Despite watching the offense take off to another level at times under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, inconsistency and a shoulder injury to Murray suffered in Week 11 proved disastrous for the team’s postseason hopes.

He may have led Arizona in rushing touchdowns in 2020, but the signal caller is looking to keep his running down to a minimum for the sake of the offense.

“Honestly the way I see it, my legs should be a luxury and it kinda wasn’t like that last year. It was kinda me having to run for us in a sense,” Murray said Thursday following the last day of Cardinals minicamp. “Once my shoulder was banged up or whatever and I wasn’t trying to put myself out there and take those hits and stuff like that, we kinda hit a lull.

“Honestly I think it was good for us. I think it was a lesson for us that we can’t be one-dimensional. We just got to be better in all areas, all aspects of the game and do the little things right. … It was a blessing for us and I think we’ll be better for it.”

It’s clear Murray wasn’t the only one watching the season unravel before his eyes as the Cardinals added multiple new pieces to the offense this offseason.

While Rodney Hudson helps shore up an improved offensive line and gives Murray a trusted veteran at center, the Cardinals underwent a makeover in the backfield, with projected starter Chase Edmonds and former Pittsburgh Steeler James Conner expected to handle carries.

Arizona didn’t stop there, gifting Murray with a pair of new receiving options.

With the wide receiver position largely inconsistent outside of DeAndre Hopkins’ 1,000-yard, 115-catch season, general manager Steve Keim and Co. added Rondale Moore in the NFL Draft and picked up former Cincinnati Bengal A.J. Green in free agency.

“I expect A.J. to have a big year. I know a lot of people are sleeping on him,” Murray said. “I know a lot of things have been said about maybe him not being able to do it anymore or whatever. We don’t care about that. I ignore all that.

“I’m glad he’s on the team, especially with Hop outside, [Christian Kirk], Rondale, Andy [Isabella], KeeSean [Johnson], all the guys that we do have. I mean we have a great receiving room, more weapons than I can ask for, so I think that will be helpful for A.J., especially in this offense.”

The offensive revamp doesn’t stop with Murray’s targets, either, as the quarterback is looking to make that third-year jump by looking to improve on all aspects of the game.

The three parts that stand out the most? His leadership, accuracy and taking care of the ball.

“There’s no one in this building or that watches the game that’s a bigger critic of me than I am,” Murray said. “I know what I need to get better at. When I get out there on the field, I plan to show that I grew in those areas.”

Murray: Camaraderie built this offseason can pay off in long run

The Cardinals may have added a number of new faces to the roster this offseason, but you wouldn’t know it by the relationships already being formed following just two organized team activities.

New additions like J.J. Watt have brought a new layer to the organization, with the defensive end quickly making himself at home. Rookie Zaven Collins is proving his worth early on with how he’s tackled his offseason assignments.

The new blood is already having an impact on the returning players, too. Safety Budda Baker is taking on much more of a leadership role being the vet that he is in the secondary. Linebacker Isaiah Simmons, although in just his second year, is also being leaned on more as a leader as works alongside Collins as the team’s starting inside linebackers.

“If you’re boys off the field then you’re gonna ride for your boy off the field,” Murray said. “I think if we can build that relationship, if we can come together as friends, brothers, that can’t do anything but help when we touch the field. … Every sport I’ve played, the closer you are off the field, the better you’re gonna be on the field.

“We got the guys, we got the talent, we got the athletes. That shouldn’t be an issue. If we’re playing for each other, if we’re doing everything we can to beat the guy in front us, be the most physical football team on the field — obviously the Xs and Os matter, but those little things, the intangibles, those go a long way.”

EXTRA POINTS

– Murray on having fans back in the stands and harnessing the Phoenix Suns’ playoff energy:

“For us, I think home field advantage will definitely be a thing. I think the fans are excited. Obviously … the years prior to last year, we weren’t very good, so I think the fans are ready to see a new and improved team. Last year we started off hot and I think the fans would have been live last year but they weren’t here. They’ve had a year without football and I think they’re ready to go. I can’t wait, I know the guys can’t wait. Watching the Suns play, they’re doing great and I think it’s time for us to piggyback off what they got going.”


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