Next man up: Cardinals QB Trace McSorley focused, excited for 1st NFL start
Dec 21, 2022, 5:45 PM
TEMPE — Sunday Night Football.
Tom Brady and a playoff-hungry Tampa Bay Buccaneers team.
The family in attendance.
Talk about one hell of a setting for the first NFL start of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Trace McSorley’s career on Sunday.
With Colt McCoy in concussion protocol and head coach Kliff Kingsbury ruling out the signal caller for the matchup against Tampa Bay, McSorley has quickly gone from third stringer to starter in a matter of weeks.
“It’s hard not to think about the opportunity that’s here, that’s kind of presented itself,” McSorley said Wednesday. “You don’t want to get it kind of how it’s happened — with guys going down with some injuries and stuff — but just going about it one day at a time, focusing on things and controlling the things I can control but then at some point, it’s an exciting opportunity and I always want to let myself feel that excitement and feel that a little bit just so I can enjoy the moment but at the same time just being focused and ready to go.”
For a player that typically gets his practice reps in on the scout team, during walkthroughs or from a mental standpoint, this week is definitely a change of pace for McSorley.
Instead of just sitting back and reading through the game plan for a given week, he’s now tasked with executing it. And not only that, but he’s got the span of a walkthrough and two days of practice to build a stronger chemistry with the weapons around him, such as DeAndre Hopkins, Hollywood Brown and James Conner.
There’s also the added wrinkle of getting the new guys behind him ready — even if he’s gaining a deeper insight on the playbook from working with recently signed QB David Blough.
Luckily for McSorley, he knows the ins and outs of how the NFL works thanks to four years in the league and has had two mentors in Kyler Murray and McCoy to glean valuable knowledge from.
“I really just try and absorb it all by kind of sitting back and listening and watching both of them and how they operate,” McSorley said. “There are different perspectives from each one, so just trying to listen and pull things from each person, how they go about the week, how they study, how they go about learning the game plan, communicating with Kliff, talking with receivers, talking with the O-line. Those are sort of the things that I’ve been able to see each one do and I’ve been able to learn a lot from both of them.”
But regardless of who is in his ear or how many NFL seasons he has under his belt, you better believe McSorley will have some nerves when he runs out of the tunnel at State Farm Stadium for the first time as a starter.
That’s quite alright with the signal caller, who is set to play in his eighth career game and fifth with Arizona.
“Just stay focused on the task at hand and … not looking at the entire big picture just focus on one thing at a time. That’s something that I learned early on when I was in high school, college, just whatever the moment of the game or whatever it might be, just staying focused on being in the present so that the whole big picture doesn’t seem to overwhelm you.
Sunday is shaping up to be a memorable day for #AZCardinals QB Trace McSorley in more ways than one.
Not only will he make the first NFL start of his career on Christmas, he’ll do so against Tom Brady. pic.twitter.com/yLILqusz5v
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) December 21, 2022
“And then a little bit of the effect is just kind of taking it all in and letting yourself kind of feel those nerves, because my dad always said, ‘If you’re not nervous, it doesn’t matter to you.’ So, it’s a good thing to have those nerves and that feel getting ready to go into a game.”
And if veteran wide receiver A.J. Green has any advice to his third starting quarterback in the span of three weeks, it’s simply have fun.
“Just go out there and play,” Green said Wednesday. “No pressure. Just go out there and put good plays out there and build off this.”
– McSorley on the passing of Hall of Famer Franco Harris:
“That was the first thing I saw this morning when I woke up and I remember I have a picture of me, my dad and him actually when I was in college (at Penn State) playing out here in the Fiesta Bowl — a few days before that game got a picture with him. So definitely sad news to hear of his passing, Penn State legend, NFL legend and everything he’s done. So definitely, your thoughts go out to him and his family and it’s definitely a tough loss for the football world in general.”