CARDINALS CORNER

Cardinals’ Clayton Tune looking to ‘remain constant’ if given Week 9 start

Nov 2, 2023, 1:47 PM

Clayton Tune practices in Week 9...

Arizona Cardinals QB Clayton Tune runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Nearly nine weeks into his NFL career and rookie quarterback Clayton Tune has already been in the mix to start not once, but twice.

The first time came amid the sudden quarterback shuffling ahead of the regular season that saw Arizona ship out Colt McCoy to make way for the addition of Joshua Dobbs.

In the span of a day, the 2023 fifth-rounder suddenly found himself thrust into the spotlight of potentially being an opening-day starter.

While that day never came for Tune — Dobbs ending up starting the first eight games of the season — the rookie once again finds himself in the middle of a quarterback query, albeit with a little more magnitude.

With Arizona trading away Dobbs on Tuesday, it’ll either be Tune or franchise quarterback Kyler Murray getting the starting nod against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Despite the added intrigue surrounding the QB situation in the desert and having just one NFL pass (that came on a trick play) under his belt this regular season, Tune isn’t letting the moment overcome him as he continues his week of prep.

“I’m excited to find out (how different running the scheme in a game is compared to practice),” Tune said Wednesday. “It’s a road environment, it’ll be loud, there’ll be a lot going on, so just got to operate clean and efficiently and if given the opportunity, just go out and make the most of it.”

“Just staying even keeled, staying in the moment, don’t get too high, don’t get too low,” Tune added on his mentality if he were to play. “There’s ebbs and flows to every game, so just remain constant and keep everyone on that same level.”

As for whether or not Tune will in fact get the start on Sunday is certainly up for discussion after head coach Jonathan Gannon on Monday proclaimed that it would be Murray or Tune against the Browns. The next day, Dobbs was removed from the roster via trade.

If Murray is fully healthy and up to speed mentally, it makes all the sense in the world to roll out the franchise signal caller over the rookie.

But on the practice field, there is a clear split taking place — at least during the open portion of work.

While Gannon has thrown Murray’s name into the mix as the potential Week 9 starter, the QB has yet to do any substantial work with the starting offense. Instead, he’s been running through drills with practice squad members much like he has since his practice window first opened.

On the other half of the field sits Tune and recently practice squad re-signing Jeff Driskel, who continue to work with pass catchers currently on the 53-man roster.

Even when it comes to taking reps under center, Murray is working with backup Keith Ismael while the other two have gotten work in with starter Hjalte Froholdt.

Again, this is all occurring during the open portion of practice.

This could very well be a smokescreen. Or it could be a signal that Tune is the frontrunner this week over Murray.

And if that is the case, confidence isn’t waning in the locker room.

“Clayton commands the huddle how he looks,” left tackle D.J. Humphries said Wednesday. “I enjoy it, I love picking with him and getting a little fire out of him, because he’s so cool and collected.

“I’m a big fan of Clayton. His demeanor and how he carries himself is super cool to me to see a young guy with that type of confidence and understanding and be able to be himself around everyone else.”

And above all else, Tune’s got the backing of his head coach.

“He’s going to go in there — if he’s in there — and let it rip,” Gannon said Wednesday.

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