ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray comfortable at the top: ‘It feels normal’

Oct 6, 2021, 3:44 PM | Updated: Oct 7, 2021, 11:19 am
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, Californ...
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium on October 03, 2021 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

TEMPE — For some quarterbacks, a team like the Arizona Cardinals’ sudden rise in the NFL standings after years of missing the playoffs and the weight that carries with it could mess with their mental.

Signal caller Kyler Murray is not among that group.

“I’m used to winning. It’s just what it is,” Murray said after practice Wednesday. “This is not a new feeling for me. It feels right, it feels normal.

“And to be back in a position where we’re going into each and every game confident that will come out victorious, it’s a great feeling for sure.”

After two years of putting up more losses than wins (17-18-1), Murray hasn’t forgotten what it’s like to be atop the standings.

He was taken No. 1 overall in 2019 for a reason.

After going 42-0 during his high school days in Texas, Murray backed it up with a 24-4 record over the course of the signal caller’s three-year college career at Texas A&M (2015) and Oklahoma (2017-18).

Winning is in Murray’s blood, and a victory Sunday puts him that much closer to getting back over the .500 hump.

Isaiah Simmons using past experiences to aid Zaven Collins

After being anointed the team’s starting MIKE linebacker before ever playing a game, rookie Zaven Collins hasn’t quite had a starter’s snap count four games into 2021.

Collins has yet to record more than 41% of the defensive snaps in a game this season. Week 4’s win over the Los Angeles Rams was his lowest output yet, on the field for just 6% of the defensive snaps. The linebacker saw 41% of the special team snaps.

Luckily for Collins, fellow linebacker Isaiah Simmons can relate.

“I talk to him every week just to know, just to see where his head space is at,” Simmons said Wednesday. “Just because I know how it feels to be in that position. … Sometimes that’s just how the cards fall. … It’s nothing personal about us not thinking he can get the job done or somebody else could do it better than him.

“We can’t control what personnel other teams run. … It’s a week to week thing. I know his snap count was down a little bit but this week could be completely different where he plays the whole game.”

Simmons didn’t see more than 29% of defensive snaps over his first seven games as a Cardinal in 2020, including a season-low 6% in Week 7, ironically.

The following nine games was a different story, however, with Simmons garnering many more reps. He turned those snaps into 42 tackles, 2.0 sacks, three QB hits and a forced fumble as he gained more and more confidence over the second half of the season.

If anyone gets what Collins is going through right now, it’s Simmons.

Sunday marked big ‘next step’ for OL Max Garcia

Offensive lineman Max Garcia made his first start in a Cardinals uniform in Sunday’s big divisional win over the Los Angeles Rams.

The victory not only added to the team’s win total, it gave Garcia added validation for the work he’s put in since tearing his ACL a few seasons back.

Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2015, Garcia quickly found himself as the team’s top option at left guard, starting every game from 2016-17.

But 2018 was a different story. Nine games (four starts) into the year, Garcia went down with a torn ACL during practice, effectively ending his season.

He eventually landed with Arizona, playing primarily on special teams over the next season and half. Garcia never played more than 49% of offensive snaps in a game over his first 23 games as a Cardinal.

That all changed in Week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With Justin Pugh and Justin Murray both knocked out of the game due to back injuries, Garcia was one of the linemen called upon to fill in. The line didn’t miss a beat as it helped Arizona secure a 31-19 win over Jacksonville.

And with Murray’s back issues lingering enough to the point where he couldn’t go Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, Garcia was right there once again to take his spot.

Four quarters later and the Cardinals were atop the NFC standings at 4-0 following the 37-20 win.

“Last week was kinda just like that next step that I was looking to take ever since my injury,” Garcia said after practice Wednesday. “When you have an injury like that, an ACL, you always want to know, can it sustain? Did I do enough to be back? But I’ve been practicing here for a long time now, and I did see some action last year, but … it was my first start last week.

“Just being able to go out there and play ball like I used to was really funny. … It’s just a huge testament from [offensive line coach and run game coordinator] Sean Kugler and my teammates being there to support me and just getting the job done together.”

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