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As A.J. Green Returns, Communication With Kyler Murray Tops To-Do List

Wide receiver looks forward to second year in Cardinals' offense

Wide receiver A.J. Green talks with tight end Zach Ertz during a game against the Texans in 2021.
Wide receiver A.J. Green talks with tight end Zach Ertz during a game against the Texans in 2021.

It made little sense for A.J. Green to go elsewhere as a free agent, he figured, because the Cardinals wanted him back and it was an offense and organization with which he was familiar.

But the veteran wide receiver acknowledged Monday, after officially signing his new one-year contract with the team, that all did not go the way he wanted last season with either his play or his chemistry with quarterback Kyler Murray.

"There is a lot of room (for growth)," Green said. "For me, it's communicating with him what I see, and what he wants me to do and how he wants me to run this (particular) route. I think last year there was a lacking on my part. I didn't really communicate with him about stuff like that because I didn't want to put a lot of stuff on his plate.

"For me, it's being more in his face, talking together. 'A.J. you need to do this better,' and I'll be like, 'OK, I've got to do this better.' Don't be hesitant when it comes to my play. 'A.J., you need to pick this up.' The second year is going to be big for that."

Green said he will be a regular attendee of the team's voluntary strength and conditioning work that begins Tuesday. He was asked if he thought Murray would attend and said he didn't know, although he's expecting "a good bit of people" of the roster to be there.

The Cardinals need Green. After a first season – Green's 10th in the NFL – when he made 54 catches for 848 yards and three touchdowns, he was brought back to fill out a receivers room that won't have Christian Kirk any longer but might add a player picked in the first round or two of the draft.

Green said he had an "OK" season but it didn't finish the way he wanted.

Aligning better with Murray – with whom he had the season's most noticeable disconnect, when Green didn't turn around for a pass from Murray in the end zone at the end of a three-point loss against the Packers, a pass that was intercepted – will be crucial in improving that outcome.

Green, on an upcoming episode of the "Big Red Rage" set to air Thursday at 6 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7, was asked if it was fair for people to wonder if he and Murray were often not on the same page in 2021.

"That's fair," Green said. "That is 100 percent fair. I felt the same way. That's where I have to be accountable. I need to go to him and tell him what I see and (him tell me) what he needs me to do better. I can take it – 'A.J., run the route at this depth. You need to do this.' I'm no bigger than the team. I need him to communicate with me, and I'll do the same."

Coach Kliff Kingsbury told The Athletic at the recent NFL Owners Meetings that the Cardinals "loved" what Green added to the offense.

"I think another year in our system, Kyler and him building his relationship will be really good," Kingsbury added.

That second year – Green said he had other options to play elsewhere be he didn't want to start over – should make a difference. Green wants to embrace the timing, just as he can clearly see the end goal.

"That's what I have to do better: Communicating with K1," Green said.