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A.J. Green Enjoying Early Work With Cardinals

Notes: Defense must respect Lawrence; Murphy doesn't practice

Wide receiver A.J. Green stretches for a touchdown against the Vikings last weekend. It was the first touchdown of Green's Arizona tenure.
Wide receiver A.J. Green stretches for a touchdown against the Vikings last weekend. It was the first touchdown of Green's Arizona tenure.

A.J. Green is still learning the Cardinals offense, his place in it, and the best ways to fit with Kyler Murray.

"It's a little different for me, Green said Thursday. "Andy (Dalton), we knew each other so well, and stuff was based on timing. He's going to throw the ball to the spot, and that's where I'm going to be.

"With K1, it's a little different. Sometimes, you just have to play backyard football, because he's going to create -- spin out of sacks or even crawl out of them for that matter -- and throw the ball down the field. So, you just have to be ready."

Green was ready Sunday against the Vikings, when he caught a quick screen from Murray -- who had audibled to the play seeing the soft coverage -- and fought the nine yards he needed for his first Cardinals' touchdown. There was a relief to it, with Green noting he didn't score his first touchdown in 2020 until Week 9.

Green is still processing Kliff Kingsbury's offense. Over two games, Green has been targeted 12 times, with five catches for 69 yards and the score. But the long-time elite receiver doesn't have to be "the" guy in Arizona, and he's just a piece of a powerful outfit thus far.

Through two games, the Cardinals average 36 points per game, the second-most in the NFL, and for the first time have opened the season with back-to-back games of 400-plus yards and 30-plus points.

"It's fun," Green said with a chuckle. "I know a bunch of my family members called me and said, 'A.J., you look like you're having fun there no matter what's going on.' And we have a lot of weapons, and to put up numbers like we're doing the first two weeks, it's fun. We know we have a special group."

DeAndre Hopkins is among five players with three touchdowns this season. Christian Kirk -- now full-time in the slot position where he appears most effective -- has the third-highest overall wide receiver grade, according to Pro Football Focus. Rondale Moore has 156 yards after catch, second in the NFL.

None have egos and are all about togetherness, Green said, which will only help.

"I think it's big," Green said on spreading the ball around. "We know Hop is going to get a lot of targets, and some games it's going to be C-Kirk, me, or Rondale. And nobody complains about getting routes. We have a special group here, but we have to keep pushing. You can't get too high or too low. It's just on to the next game."


Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said the defense's main objective is to stop the run and turn the Jaguars one-dimensional on Sunday. That's the usual objective, and it's even moreso going against rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. But the Cards don't want to be burned by Lawrence either.

The Cardinals allowed Vikings QB Kirk Cousins -- less of a runner than Lawrence -- to scramble for 30 yards on one play and 35 total. Though Lawrence only has three rushes for 19 yards on the season, Joseph knows his history and what he's capable of athletically.

"We have to keep this guy honest," Joseph said. "Watching Kirk run for 35 yards last week wasn't good on our part. So, we have to rush with more integrity and keep (Lawrence) in the pocket, so he doesn't bust pockets, especially in the red zone. But this quarterback is special. He's a top pick for a reason."

The Cardinals had a busted coverage on the first defensive series in Week Two, allowing a 64-yard touchdown, something the Cardinals want to avoid against a quarterback with a respected deep ball in his arsenal.

"Lawrence is talented," Joseph says. "He can make every throw, obviously, to be the No.1 overall pick. When you watch his game, the deep ball is the best ball he throws. It's been on point, he's accurate with it, and they've hit every week. The first drive against the Broncos, which is a very good defense, went 84 yards for a touchdown. So, it won't be an easy out on Sunday."


Cornerback Byron Murphy (ankle) was added to the injury report with an ankle injury, sitting out practice Thursday, as did backup offensive lineman Josh Miles (ankle). Offensive lineman Justin Murray also missed practice for personal reasons, while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (ribs) and offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum (ribs) sat out as well.

A.J. Green, however, isn't worried about Hopkins' status: "Hop don't miss games."

Cornerback Marco Wilson (ankle) and guard Justin Pugh (shoulder) were upgraded to limited, along with linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring).

For the Jaguars, cornerback C.J. Henderson (groin/illness) and wide receiver Marvin Jones (rest) didn't practice. Offensive lineman Brandon Linder (back), defensive tackle Jay Tufele (illness), cornerback Tre Herndon (knee) and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (ankle) were limited.