Cardinals, Browns keeping their quarterback cards close to the vest

Nov 1, 2023, 4:06 PM

Kyler Murray practices in Week 9...

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Nov. 1, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — It’s officially a game of quarterback chicken between the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns ahead of their Week 9 matchup.

Who budges first is anyone’s guess.

Among the question marks on both sides of Sunday’s tilt, there’s one that stands above the rest:

Who the heck is going to start for either side come Sunday?

The breadcrumbs were few and far between Wednesday as the Cardinals and Browns began their week of practice.

On the Browns’ sideline, it’s largely between Deshaun Watson and P.J. Walker, with Dorian Thompson-Robinson a potential third arm to consider.

For the Cardinals, it’ll come down to Kyler Murray or Clayton Tune. The practice-squad addition of Jeff Driskel adds another option if need be.

It’s unclear which signal callers will get the starting nods, but what’s not is the added game planning each side is going to have to take on given the variables of the position.

“You got to have a couple plans, three honestly,” Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon said Wednesday. “But as the week gets going, you got to adjust a little bit and our guys know that and you got to be ready for what you can get for Sunday. You got to do some work.”

Both sides aren’t going to reveal their cards before they have to.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t things to glean from the two.

When it comes to the Cardinals, Murray again was seen working only with practice squad members during the open portion of practice on Wednesday.

Since the QB’s practice window opened, it’s been much of the same open-portion work for Murray, though quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork said previously that the franchise signal caller was getting work in mostly with the scout team against the starting defense. He was also getting some reps with the starting offense.

Tune and Driskel meanwhile were stationed on the other side of the field working with members of the 53-man roster. Driskel has seemingly taken the place of Joshua Dobbs, who had worked alongside Tune despite Murray’s open practice window.

As for the Browns, they welcomed Watson back to the practice field on Wednesday for the first time in weeks.

Watson has missed three of the past four games with a strained rotator cuff in his shoulder. In the one game he did play during that span, he attempted just five passes before exiting.

As for his status on Wednesday, Watson was officially listed as limited with the right shoulder issue.

Even when healthy, Watson hasn’t lived up to his hefty price tag, completing 63.8% of his throws for 678 yards and four touchdowns to two interceptions during the first three games of the season. He also ran for 83 yards and a score on 15 carries.

And if it’s not Watson, Stefanski said he’ll turn things over to Walker.

In three games played (two starts) in place of Watson this season, Walker has completed just 49.5% of his throws for 618 yards and one touchdown to five interceptions. He also rushed 12 times for 31 yards.

“It just makes us add a little bit more to the game plan with a little more layers that we can then start to eliminate as the week goes on or even on game day once we gain that information,” Cardinals defensive coordinator Nick Rallis said of the unknown at QB on Tuesday.

“But you can’t be unprepared for something. You have to be prepared for everything. And then you just have to be able to be adaptable whenever that time comes to make sure that it’s the plan that you want come Sunday.”

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