CARDINALS CORNER

Kyler Murray’s presence felt as Arizona Cardinals kick off OTAs

May 22, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: May 24, 2023, 9:09 am

TEMPE — The jury’s still out as to when Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray will suit up and take his spot in the starting lineup.

With no timeline given for the signal caller’s return from a torn ACL late last season, it’s anyone’s guess.

But just because he’s not medically clear to resume the full brunt of football activities doesn’t mean the QB can’t grow or make an impact in other ways, as seen during voluntary organized team activities on Monday.

“Obviously, he’s going through the rehab process but he wants to be out there, I know that,” Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon said Monday. “He’s fully engaged with everything we’re doing. I saw him making the reads back there behind the offense.

“When the guys see your trigger guy out there, it matters. He’s done everything and more that we wanted him to do and excited for him with where he’s at.”

Getting his work in off to the side like he has been at past workouts this offseason, Murray took time away from his training regimen to get a better look at the offense alongside new coordinator Drew Petzing.

He not only checked in on his fellow passers but also his targets down the field, the runners of the rock behind him and those holding down the trenches in front of him.

Bases equal covered.

“It just shows that he cares, cares about us getting better as a team learning the offense, and those mental reps he gets as well even though he can’t physically be a part of it,” new Cardinals wide receiver Zach Pascal said Monday. “He can get those mental reps and it just trickles down to the whole team.”

Livin’ on the edge

Zaven Collins took a clear step forward last season as the team’s unquestioned MIKE backer.

On Monday, though, Collins worked specifically with the outside linebackers room.

As for who was taking things over on the inside, that duty belonged largely to linebackers Kyzir White and Josh Woods, who led the way during positional work.

It’s not the first time Collins has been used elsewhere and won’t be the last, with Gannon and the linebacker both mentioning his versatility earlier this offseason.

The Cardinals have question marks on the outside. Could one of the answers come from the inside?

Something to Gaines

The hunch is turning into a reality, folks.

Versatile rookie offensive lineman Jon Gaines II continues to see a ton of work at center as he gets accustomed to life in the NFL trenches.

He was among a handful of players to work on their snapping during Monday’s OTAs, working with McCoy and other quarterbacks throughout the day.

Other players getting work at the position included Hayden Howerton and Lecitus Smith with Hjalte Froholdt not in attendance on Monday.

That’s not to say Gaines won’t see work at guard, but it’s clear the Cardinals hold the rookie in high regard front and center.

Up to speed?

Veteran quarterback and potential Week 1 starter Colt McCoy was among his fellow signal callers on Monday, a good sign he’s recovered from his undisclosed injury.

He took part and led the way in all of the drills throughout the open portion of the team activities.

An annual tradition

It’s truly a tradition like none other.

Linebacker Isaiah Simmons was once again working with the defensive backs throughout Arizona’s OTAs on Monday.

Even with a new regime in house, the linebacker still finds himself roaming the secondary.

The development does very little in determining where exactly Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis see Simmons fitting into the equation.

But at least the linebacker was in attendance after Arizona decided against picking up his fifth-year option this offseason.

Something to watch?

Among those that didn’t take part in team activities on Monday was 2023 second-rounder BJ Ojulari.

Ojulari was on the practice field but worked off to the side throughout the practice.

It’s an interesting development given he is the only rookie yet to sign his contract with the Cardinals.

Outside of his participation and cornerback Garrett Williams’ continued rehab, the rest of Arizona’s batch of draft picks participated on Monday.

Cam the man

Of the returning Cardinals, outside linebacker Cam Thomas looked noticeably bigger and faster than he did as a rookie last season.

He’s currently sitting around 270 pounds but feels leaner and quicker.

It’s a credit to his work off the field.

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