Kyler Murray’s progress headlines Cardinals’ Week 7 storylines

Oct 20, 2023, 3:47 PM | Updated: Oct 21, 2023, 10:46 am

TEMPE — Week 7 marked the first time Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray took the practice field with his teammates since going down with a torn ACL last December.

Now with three days of practice under his belt, what’s stood out to quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork?

“It’s showed all the hard work he put in, he’s adapting really fast,” Woolfork said Friday. “He did a good job this offseason of actually studying what we were doing.

“He asked a lot of great questions, he put time in the classroom so when he got out here, he was more worried about the physical part of the game, which is awesome. And that helps with the transition of getting back into the swing of things.”

Murray isn’t out there going through the motions, either.

According to Woolfork, most of the signal caller’s reps right now are mostly coming as a second-teamer against the starting defense, though he is getting some work with the starting offense as well.

Murray’s not only getting valuable reps in against a first-team defense, he’s also helping coach up the young players looking to make their mark on the roster.

And while it’s only been three days, left tackle D.J. Humphries and rookie Paris Johnson Jr. are liking what they’re seeing out of his franchise passer.

“I’m not a medical professional at all, although some people call me doctor. … But I will say he looks very good,” Humphries said Friday. “I don’t really see any hitches or anything like that, so that’s always promising for somebody coming off something so traumatic and serious as he did.”

“It’s exciting. That’s the guy I came to play for,” Johnson added. “To see him get back there and acquainted in the huddle, it’s awesome. (Murray’s arm) is awesome to watch. It’s minimal effort and the ball is zooming. There’s only a couple quarterbacks that I’ve been around that when they throw the ball you hear it.”

Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker is a problem

The Cardinals’ already suspect run defense has been exposed over the past handful of weeks.

In three of the team’s past four matchups, Arizona has allowed 100 yards or more to an opposing running back on top of five touchdowns combined.

Even in the one game the Cardinals didn’t allow a rushing touchdown or 100-yard runner — a Week 5 loss to Cincinnati — Joe Mixon still made an impact behind 81 yards despite the Bengals’ concerted effort to get “always open” wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase the rock.

This week doesn’t get any easier for the Cardinals with Kenneth Walker leading the Seattle Seahawks run game into the Week 7 tilt.

Despite this being his second NFL season, Walker is already finding himself in the conversation of premier running threats, especially when it comes to taking on the Cardinals.

In each of his two showings against Arizona, Walker has amassed at least 110 scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown.

And even though this will mark the first time Arizona’s new regime takes on the runner, head coach Jonathan Gannon knows what kind of problem he can be for opposing defenses.

“What makes (Seattle’s offense) go is No. 9 in my opinion, with the run game, the keeper game, the boot game,” Gannon said of Walker. “(Quarterback Geno Smith) does a good job of taking care of it, they don’t turn it over, got weapons outside. We got our work cut out for us.”

Walker presents a tough challenge, though may have to run behind a depleted offensive line in Week 7.

All five of Seattle’s starting offensive linemen dealt with injuries throughout the week, with only tackle Charles Cross and guard Damien Lewis logging a single day of full participation.

A banged-up offensive line isn’t the end-all, be-all but it definitely gives Arizona’s defense a clear area to exploit.

Protect the rock

After a couple games of clean football, Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs has reverted back to coughing the ball up.

In both of the team’s most recent losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Bengals, Dobbs was dinged for a combined three interceptions and two lost fumbles.

For a team that can’t afford to shoot itself in the foot, the turnovers have been death sentences.

Dobbs is the first person to recognize that.

“It starts with me taking care of the football and putting our team in a position to win,” Dobbs said last week. “When I do that, we’ve seen that we play really good football, we’re in games and we can win games as well.”

But as much as you don’t want to put the ball in harm’s way, there are times when the moment calls for it.

When those pop up, Dobbs remains ready to push the envelope despite the potential for a turnover.

“I don’t play scared,” Dobbs said. “I understand the nature of football. I understand that stuff happens out there on the field. Stuff happens that is really good and stuff happens that is really bad.

“As I say, each week is independent of your last performance, but also each play. It is the same thing. No matter what happened on the last play, good or bad, you’ve still got to be locked in for the next one.”

If Dobbs can keep the ball out of the mitts of Seattle defenders, there’s an opportunity to be had.

Entering the week, the Seahawks are in the bottom five in terms of passing yards allowed per game with 257.6, though have given up seven passing touchdowns in 2023.

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