Can Sean Murphy-Bunting lead the Cardinals’ cornerbacks room?

Apr 2, 2024, 9:44 AM | Updated: 9:46 am

Sean-Murphy Bunting makes an interception...

Sean Murphy-Bunting #23 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers catches an interception against Mecole Hardman #17 of the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter during their game at Raymond James Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. The play was called back due to a roughing the passer penalty. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

TEMPE — New Arizona Cardinals cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting wouldn’t classify himself as someone who’s bounced around the league, having played the majority of his career in Tampa Bay before a one-year stint in Tennessee this past season.

Nor does the 26-year-old classify himself as old, though he acknowledges he’s a “young vet” with five years of NFL experience.

What he does rock with, though, is being a leader to the young players within the cornerbacks room and a player the franchise can trust moving forward.

Or as Murphy-Bunting put it during his introductory press conference last month after inking a three-year deal with the Cardinals, “the guy that they’ve been waiting for.”

“I want to be the guy you can rely on and say, ‘He’s going to handle that side of the field and we’re OK there,'” Murphy-Bunting said. “That’s just what it’s going to be. I’m coming in, I work hard, I show up every day, but I’m the same guy. Always have a smile on my face.

“I’m just grateful and I don’t take things like that for granted. I don’t take the opportunity to be here for granted. I don’t take the opportunity to play with the guys here that I’m going to play with for granted, because you can learn so much from everybody.”

A Buccaneers’ second-round draft pick out of Central Michigan in 2019, Murphy-Bunting has had his fair share of NFL experiences, from battling his way up the depth chart to being a part of the team’s Super Bowl run and everything else that came with his four-year stint in Florida.

During his time in Tampa Bay on top of his one year in Tennessee, the cornerback amassed 50 starts across 67 games played with 245 tackles, eight interceptions, 29 passes defensed and six forced fumbles.

Now, Murphy-Bunting will use those past experiences to his advantage in a cornerbacks room looking for a leader among a group of youngsters.

“You have to know how to lead. You can lead in many different ways and having younger guys, there’s certain things that you can tell them or talk to them about,” the veteran said. “I can talk to them about the highs and lows of my career so far. … It’s lessons. It’s embracing the fact that I really am a vet and embracing what I have been through and just embracing the type of player that I am, the type of person that I am.

“That’s one thing that’s never really changed about me is always attacking the days and always attacking the opportunities at full throttle. Just being myself, being humble, being able to help guys, being able to pull guys along who may need it and just adjusting to how guys react to certain situations.”

Every little bit helps for a secondary in need of a jolt of energy after a tough first year under the new regime.

The Cardinals may have finished 13th in passing yards allowed per game (212.5), but they were on the hook for the third-most touchdowns (32) and the second-highest passer rating (102.9) in the NFL last season.

Despite the tough 2023 showing, a trio of rookies in Kei’Trel Clark, Garrett Williams and Starling Thomas all gained valuable experience.

Arizona is hoping those three can expedite their growth even more in coverage and beyond under Murphy-Bunting’s tutelage and mindset of wanting to be the most complete player out on the field.

“Most of the time, teams assume that corners don’t like to tackle or corners don’t like to be there for run support,” Murphy-Bunting said. “But when they do show up, it changes the whole aspect and the dynamic of that defense and of the game.

“Any chance that I can get to make a play, whether that’s a TFL, whether that’s a sack or whatever it is. Any chance I get to make a play, I’m trying to make that play and let it be known that I’m willing to do whatever it takes for my team to win.”

Budda Baker’s going to flip when he hears this

By now, you’ve seen Budda Baker’s flip up from the ground.

Well, on top of his excitement of roaming the secondary alongside the safety, Murphy-Bunting is eager to show off his own flipping technique.

“He’s extra athletic, because I seen him do a little kickup flip from the ground,” Murphy-Bunting said. “It’s funny because once I seen him do it, I tried to learn it and now I know how to do it. Now, I can do it with him.”

Let the competition for best flip begin.

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