What Kyler Murray does on the field Sunday is important on many levels for the Cardinals. But how the quarterback operates off the field, in the locker room, well, that's in the spotlight too.
Tackle D.J. Humphries has talked about it before, getting to spend a lot of offseason time with Murray at the Dignity Health Training Center while both rehabbed. The reality is that Murray, in his previous offseasons, got away from Arizona as much as he could.
"When you play football for a long time and you're around a bunch of different quarterbacks, you get the sense they are these mystical, mythical creatures that you only see when it's time to throw the football and it's like, 'Man, did you see him throw that touchdown the other day? That was crazy,'" Humphries said. "But you don't really get to see the work. You don't see what the training looks like. Like he's drinking Mai Tais on the beach, throwing footballs, that's what the thought is.
"But being in the building, watching him grind, do leg day after leg day, seeing him do the physical work, seeing him in the locker room dog-ass tired knowing he had another workout to go, just seeing that, it was dope."
The notion was brought up to Murray, who acknowledged working in close quarters with a teammate like Humphries is bound to make an impact.
"You play harder for a guy that you know and love," Murray said. "Obviously, you want to play hard in general, but it's different when you've got your brother next to you and you know what he's been through and y'all have been through it together. I think it was beneficial. I haven't been this involved in the offseason program … but being here every day and just doing the same thing over and over again and getting it in, I saw what (Hump) got to go through as well, so it definitely builds a different type of bond."
The whole journey of Murray A.I. (after injury) will be something to watch. But he noted that "you find out really quick about who you are and what you're about" after going through what he did. Seeing how it might've changed him in multiple areas will be part of the story.
-- What the offensive line will look like in front of Kyler is TBD. D.J. Humphries missed the entire week with an ankle injury, so it's likely Kelvin Beachum will get the start at left tackle. Right guard Will Hernandez was limited but at least doing something on his banged-up knee, so if he can get in the lineup, that can only help.
"You have to adjust to whoever comes in, but I have full belief and trust in the guys who are going to go in there," center Hjalte Froholdt said. "We have a good room with a bunch of dudes who are ready to step up. You just have to learn a little bit how to play with them, since we are a unit and we are kind of bouncing off each other in a sense."
-- Whoever is on the offensive line, the unit must be better than it was in Cleveland. Rookie QB Clayton Tune struggled, but the line itself had its collective worst game of the season too.
"It's a tough game to look at because we didn't have much success and that was all across the the offensive line," Froholdt said. "I know I had my fair share of mistakes. But we have to move on to the Falcons. You don't want to dwell too much on it and carry it into the next week, but at the same time, you can't just push past it. You have to learn something from it."
-- Uniform update: The Cardinals are at home, so it will be red-on-red for the Salute to Service game.
-- The Falcons will have a third straight game in which the opposing quarterback will be making his first start of the season. Three weeks ago it was the Titans and Will Levis. Last week it was the Vikings and Jaren Hall, before Hall got hurt and the Falcons got Josh Dobbs'd. Now it's Murray.
-- The last time the Falcons won in Arizona the game was at Sun Devil Stadium. It was 2001, in the Cardinals' second game after 9/11. Game temp was 104 degrees and Falcons rookie kicker Jay Feely had two field goals.
-- The Falcons are averaging only 18.4 points a game this season (although they did score 28 in their loss to the Vikings last week.) Yet they have found a way to make big-time plays, perhaps not a surprise with an offense with wideout Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Bijan Robinson. Since Week 5, the Falcons have 75 plays of at least 10 yards, the best mark in the league. They are tied for plays that go at least 20 yards, with 21.
-- It got lost in the morass of the Cardinals' overall offensive slog last week, but the fact Tune and Rondale Moore lost a 25-yard pass – which would've been the Cardinals' best play of the day – due to a wretched offensive pass interference call on Hollywood Brown was simply bad.
"When he called it and he said it was on me, I told him, 'I didn't touch anyone,'" Brown said. "He looked at me and was like, 'Pass interference on No. 2.' JG preaches you can't control what you can't control. I didn't dwell on it, I'm like 'OK, that's what they called, keep playing.' It was unfortunate it didn't go our way."
-- Brown has caught a TD pass in each of the Cardinals' four previous home games this season. I like his chances to make it No. 5 with his best friend at QB.
-- The last word comes from – shocker! – Kyler Murray, who talked this week for the first time since late July. Murray was asked about how he sees the culture of the Cardinals morphing under GM Monti Ossenfort and coach Jonathan Gannon.
"I've seen a lot of people -- Budda (Baker) and D.J. and all the quotes about how it's been night and day. Complete 180 shifts and stuff like that. I would agree," Murray said. "JG and Monti just coming in I think comes down to accountability and everybody doing their job. Everybody doing their job, everybody holding each other accountable and setting that standard. If you break that standard, then it is what it is.
"You've got to face whatever consequences, regardless of if it's me, if it's JG or whoever it is and if we hold each other that standard that's how you build a culture. You bring in the right guys that are bought in and willing to do whatever for the guy next to him. I think we're heading in the right direction."
See you Sunday.