It’s unclear how the Cardinals will fare during their season opener with rookie quarterback Kyler Murray under center, and not even Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury is sure.
Kingsbury, who also is in his first season as an NFL coach, said it’s hard to read what’s going through Murray’s mind since he’s naturally a more reserved person.
“That’s what he is and who he is. I guess he thought he was going to be here his entire life, so it’s just the next step for him,” Kingsbury said, via ESPN. “I’ve said it all along: He’s a rookie quarterback in the NFL starting Week 1. There’s going to be some ups and downs. We’re going to make some mistakes. We’ll work through those and try to continue to improve together.”
Murray and Kingsbury have known each other since Murray was being scouted by Texas Tech. Even though they have built a relationship over the years, Kingsbury said it’s difficult to get Murray to tell him what plays he’s most comfortable with running.
“It’s like pulling teeth with him trying to (get him to) tell me that ‘I don’t like a play’ because he wants to make them all work and that’s his attitude,” Kingsbury said. “But there’s good conversations and after today, walking off the practice field, I’ll try to get, ‘Hey, what don’t you like?’ and he’ll say, ‘I love it all’ and we’ll move forward. That’s how he is.
“He’s competitive, and he wants to make it all work. But, yeah, there’s definitely those conversations going on. We want to make sure he’s as comfortable as possible because it will be a tough challenge. It’s hard to step in as a rookie Day 1 and win a football game, and we understand that, so we’re going to try to help him as much as possible.”
Kingsbury later said he does expect Murray to blossom as the season goes on and for him to speak up and become a leader on and off the field.
“What you see is what you get,” Kingsbury said. “He’s not going to be over the top, rainbows and sunshine with you, and I like that because that’s how he carries himself. He’s very confident, very competitive. I like where he’s at. I don’t ever see him bringing me cupcakes on game day or anything like that. I think he’s going to be who he is and we’ll continue our relationship.”
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Before this alarms Cardinals fans, Kingsbury said Murray already is ahead of the curve when it comes to first-year starting quarterbacks and that “it’s not like he’s coming in here trying to learn Chinese as a lot of those first-year quarterbacks.”
Murray’s — and Kingsbury’s — first NFL game will be Sunday against the Lions.