Cardinals QB Kyler Murray ’emotionless’ ahead of 2023 debut vs. Falcons

Nov 9, 2023, 3:45 PM

Kyler Murray throws a pass...

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass in the second quarter of the game against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium on November 06, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

TEMPE — It’s been a long time coming for quarterback Kyler Murray’s return to action following his ACL tear.

After what will be 11 months to the day from when he went down in December against the New England Patriots, Murray finally will get the chance to show the new regime what he brings to the table against the Atlanta Falcons.

On December 12, Murray’s career took a hard turn filled with question marks as to whether or not he would ever return to a similar form.

Now, on November 12, he’ll begin working toward his next chapter while not forgetting the path he traversed to get back to this point.

“I’m kind of emotionless in a sense, not trying to be too high, too low,” Murray said Thursday, speaking to the media for the first time since training camp. “At the end of the day, we’re playing football. It’s a blessing to be able to be out there with my teammates and move around and run, walk.

“It was a long, long 10 months (post-surgery). I never dealt with that before, so doing the same thing every day, trying to get better each and every day, sometimes not feeling good, sometimes feeling better. To now be here, it’s a good feeling.”

Now, emotions are easier to keep in check during practice and workouts. During a game? That’s a whole other story.

Trust is key

When it came to Murray’s return, it largely came down to two factors:

Being physically and mentally ready.

No matter how good Murray felt physically — the QB said he’s felt good “for quite some time now” — there was always going to be a mental hurdle associated with his return to action.

Among the biggest questions was will he trust his knee when the lights come on?

“If I was thinking about it right now, I wouldn’t be out here,” Murray said. “When people ask that type of question, it’s like, I can’t get better if I don’t trust it even with running for the first time.

“In order for myself to get better, I have to trust it. If the doctor tells me I’m good, if (reconditioning coordinator Buddy Morris) tells me I’m good then we’re good. But as far as being scared, you get one day of reps to be kind of hesitant. After that we got to go. That was kind of the mindset.”

Rust? What rust?

Head coach Jonathan Gannon brought up a realistic disclaimer when talking about Murray’s return this week.

There’s a legit chance Murray isn’t the player he was right out of the gates.

Just don’t tell Murray that.

“He told me that to my face and I kind of laughed at him,” Murray said. “I understand the thought process, but every time I touch the field, I’m trying to do my thing. That’s win and do it at a high level.

“I understand the thought process of, ‘Take it slow, don’t be too hard on yourself.’ I missed all the reps, I missed all the camp reps, I missed all of the preseason. I’ve missed all this time. I hear what he’s saying. But that’s not in my head.”

The road that was

Just based on the magnitude of the injury and the fact that Murray had never dealt with anything like it throughout his football career, it could have been easy for the QB to dig himself down into a hole.

Luckily for the QB, a support system consisting of his family, friends and Morris helped keep Murray on the straight and narrow as he went through all the ups and downs that come with bouncing back from a torn ACL.

“I’m tremendously thankful. I had the best group I could possibly have to be able to lean on and keep me up,” Murray said. “I was pretty good about being up myself, not too many negative days throughout this whole thing. There were a couple where you don’t feel as good as you’d like to feel and it’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, the end goal was to get back and be me.

“That’s what pushed me every single day. It wasn’t any external factors or motivation. It had to come from within, but I’m grateful for the people who have been around me, though.”

As for what Murray gained through all the trials and tribulations of getting back to where he is today?

“A new level of resiliency.”

“I already felt like I had that chip on my shoulder, but never out of anything, never down,” Murray said. “I always feel I can win anything, but when you go through something like this, you find out really quickly about who you are and what you’re about. I think everything happens for a reason and at the right timing.”

This close

Murray is set to take over an NFL offense he has yet to run in a game setting.

The air raid approach is a thing of the past for this franchise, with no one looking back.

“Completely different, the verbiage, terminology and the way we do things now, but it’s been good,” Murray said. “I’m comfortable with it. (Offensive coordinator Drew Petzing) explains it really well, coaches it really well to the T. There are so many details about it. I love it. The detail-orientated-ness of it has been great for me. I’m excited to go out there and execute.”

In Murray’s eyes, it’s not the concerted effort to run the rock, the added work under center, the details or the utilization of more 12-personnel sets that stand out the most.

It’s how close this offense is to finding success.

Just because Murray hasn’t taken a game snap, doesn’t mean he’s oblivious to what’s transpired offensively nine weeks into the season.

“There’s a couple plays here or there that we just shoot ourselves in the foot,” Murray said. “We’re really not that far off. People may think we’re a bad football team. We’re not a bad football team. We got to clean some things up and we need to make more plays. That’s what it comes down to is making plays.”

“I think we got a very talented group and I think our numbers, their numbers offensively, we may not be playing the way we feel like we’re capable of playing,” the QB added. “Our record obviously says that but I’m excited to go out there and be able to give these guys an opportunity to feel success and win together. I’m looking forward to it.”

Heading into Week 10’s tilt, the Cardinals offense is in the bottom half of the league in total yards (289.7) and points per game (16.8) and sits in front of only the New York Giants (155) in passing yards per game (162.7).

Translation: There’s a lot to improve upon for Murray and Co.

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