Larry Fitzgerald sat in front of his locker last week, giving his thoughts about his rookie quarterback, and the first thing the veteran wide receiver mentioned wasn’t Kyler Murray’s rocket arm or speed.
“The first thing that pops out to you, how intelligent he is,” Fitzgerald said. “He knows the system better than we do.”
That notion brought a smile to Murray’s face Tuesday, after the Cardinals had their first practice of their mandatory minicamp. Veterans don’t necessarily have to be around all the time during the voluntary part of the offseason, Murray noted.
“Me being there every day, studying it every day, yes, I do know it better,” Murray finally acknowledged, before adding, “but that’s my job.”
Murray also knows it better because Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme has several characteristics of the offense Murray ran in college at Oklahoma, and the offense that Murray and current teammate Christian Kirk ran at Texas A&M (where Murray played before transferring.)
As the Cardinals come to the end of their offseason work following the minicamp this week, Murray has gotten the maximum amount of prep as the team’s starting quarterback. Kingsbury said there was “some truth” to Fitzgerald’s Murray hypothesis because of Murray’s history. The coach also sees a quarterback growing in his NFL comfortability, and teammates who know understand how Murray prefers to operate.
“I think he’s right where we want him to be,” Kirk said.
Fitzgerald did praise the “catchable ball” Murray throws, but even as a receiver, couldn’t help but emphasize Murray’s speed and athleticism if a play goes sideways.
“He has the ultimate weapon in the exit button he has,” Fitzgerald said. “That’ll be a dimension we haven’t had here. I’ve never played with a quarterback that explosive when things break down.”
Murray is going to make mistakes. He has talked about the tighter windows and defenders seemingly knowing what the play will be prior to the snap, and gambles can backfire more often at this level, as Murray found when he was intercepted by Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson last week.
“I like his attitude because he’s going to take chances, and this is the time to do it,” Kingsbury said. “See what you can get away with – if you want to go after Pat (Peterson) a couple of times – that’s what it takes to learn.”
Murray said he isn’t worried about making mistakes, because he know that he will at times. The former first-round pick in Major League Baseball is well versed in such things, given that a star baseball player can still “fail” seven of every 10 at-bats.
Murray also noted he had some struggles as a freshman at A&M, which he dealt with.
“You don’t hope to fail, but that’s part of it,” Murray said. “If it happens, I’ll know how to handle it.
“I’m not waking up thinking, ‘I can’t wait to fail,’ ” he added.
Murray’s understanding of the offense should help minimize the problems. Kirk – who said with a smile he could “hold his own” with Murray in terms of knowing the offense right now – sees a quarterback in a perfect situation heading into training camp.
“This offense, Kliff has done a good job of simplifying it, compared to last year when you had a hundred million words you had to say before you called a play,” Kirk said. “You have a lot to think about, especially being a rookie quarterback. It makes Kyler more comfortable, and that’s when you play your best football, when you aren’t thinking.”
The Cardinals brought in undrafted rookie quarterback Taryn Christion for a tryout during minicamp. Christion, who had signed post-draft with the Seahawks before getting released, played at South Dakota State.