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August Is For Birthdays, Kyler Murray, And Wednesday Before The Chargers

Kyler Murray turned 22 today, the eve of his NFL preseason debut. Not that he had any big plans for his birthday.

"I don't really have much I can do," he said, and given that the Cards would be going through pregame prep, no, there really wasn't.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury turns 40 on Friday, the day after the Chargers game. How does the coach feel about hitting such a milestone? Kingsbury paused when asked that, before dropping a "Next question." So that seems about right.

August certainly seems the month for birthdays. There are a bunch around the Cardinals (including a cohort of mine who also will soon be turning 40; I'll need to give him the chance to "next question" me.). Larry Fitzgerald turns 36 at the end of the month, a day I always remember because it happens to coincide with mine. Age is but a number, of course, and preseason games are but a high-profile practice.

Murray's first game is what everyone is waiting for. There was a funny moment this week when Murray was asked if he wanted to get hit, given that he hasn't been since he played against Alabama in the college football playoffs. Former Cardinals QB Carson Palmer famously talked about liking to absorb that first hit of the season, to get into game mode. Murray? Not so much.

"Uh ... I hope I don't get hit," Murray said, laughing.

Murray is expected to play against the Chargers. How much? Kingsbury said it could be three plays, it could be 12. The game will dictate such things, although I'd think it'll be closer to three than 12. Kingsbury said he won't ask Murray to do anything but play his game, but Murray and Kingsbury have also said multiple times how vanilla the offense will be.

"When I touch the field it's full go, not holding anything back," Murray said. "But (I) understand this isn't the real thing."

It was somewhat odd listening to Murray talk about getting prepared for this game, how he won't go overboard emotionally because it doesn't count. That's just not a thing in college. That first game in college means as much as the last, at least in the regular season.

"It is kind of weird," Murray said. "It's going to be different suiting up in a Cardinals jersey. You're not playing for a school, you're representing a state."

Some other thoughts before this first game:

-- It will be interesting to see who suits up, especially with the guys who were absent Tuesday, like cornerback Byron Murphy, tackle Marcus Gilbert and wide receiver Kevin White.

-- There has been a lot of discussion about Murray's playing time, but what about everyone else? I'd think guys like Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson would get a few snaps -- they are trying to learn a new offense -- but Kingsbury left that possibility up in the air. None of the starters, except maybe offensive linemen, would figure to be out there too long.

-- Wide receiver KeeSean Johnson has had a good camp. Let's see him do it in a game. Same with defensive lineman Zach Allen.

-- The second-unit offensive line, to me, might be the most important part of the game to watch. There is uncertainty about who could be the team's third tackle -- Rees Odhiambo and Korey Cunningham are the leading candidates -- on a roster where the starting two tackles have significant injury histories. I'd like to see how rookie Lamont Gaillard looks, either at guard or center. And even with Mason Cole starting at left guard with Justin Pugh down, I'd assume he'll still get some center work as he battles with A.Q. Shipley.

-- Safety behind starters D.J. Swearinger and Budda Baker is another spot that piques my interest. Do the Cards keep four safeties? Right now, Josh Shaw has done a solid job in camp, there is holdover Rudy Ford -- good on special teams -- and of course, draft picks Deionte Thompson and Jalen Thompson.

See you tomorrow night.

Kyler Murray squats and watches at 2019 camp practice

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