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Balancing The Importance Of Kyler Murray As Runner

Notes: Kingsbury hopeful Fitzgerald, COVID players can return against Rams

Quarterback Kyler Murray runs against the Patriots during Sunday's loss in New England.
Quarterback Kyler Murray runs against the Patriots during Sunday's loss in New England.

Kyler Murray quarterback, is a passer first – but it is his legs that make him the dynamic package he is behind center.

For a second straight game, both he and coach Kliff Kingsbury said the opposing defense, in Sunday's case the Patriots, keyed on Murray the runner. Murray ended up tying his season-low with five rushing attempts (for 31 yards.)

But Kingsbury said Monday after the loss in New England, the opponent limiting Murray's running "I don't think has a negative effect" on the Cardinals' offense.

"I think when we have to be great at the precision passing game it's just about us being more consistent in doing that," Kingsbury said. "Being on-time with the ball, having the right depths of the routes, I think you've got to have more sense of urgency there when teams are going to make us throw it and we get in situations where we have to throw it."

The Patriots were keying on Murray, coach and QB said, forcing him to give the ball up on zone-read plays. Murray came into the league insisting he preferred to play in the pocket and throw, and reiterated after the game "I don't think I have to run for us to be successful."

"I mean, I'm very confident about our running backs," Murray said. "It just is what it is. They choose to take me out of it. I've got to hand the ball off. I can't control the ball after that. I've got to hand the ball off."

There have been three games this season Murray has had only five rushing attempts and one game with six. In all four games, the Cardinals have lost – although to be fair, in the fifth loss of the Cardinals' season, Murray was fantastic on the ground with 106 yards on 11 carries.

Kingsbury disputed the idea that defenses have figured out the way to slow Murray and the offense. Running backs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds combined for 28 carries for 107 yards against the Patriots, along with both Cardinals' touchdowns.

"We want Kyler to play his game and there will be games where he'll rush for more yards than he did (Sunday) and there will be games where he throws for a ton of yards," Kingsbury said. "That's the NFL, that's week-in and week-out trying to take what the defense gives you and execute at a high level. The last couple of weeks we haven't done our best offensively, there's no question. We got to find a way to create some more explosive plays and be more efficient on third downs. But that's the league."


Kingsbury said wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is doing "well" after going on the COVID reserve list – Fitzgerald reportedly tested positive – and added he was hopeful all three players out because of COVID can return to play against the Rams: Fitzgerald, wide receiver Trent Sherfield and safety Deionte Thompson.

"That remains to be seen," Kingsbury added.

The coach also said he has yet to hear of any plans of how a vaccine might be distributed among the team.

"That's a call that will come from a higher level than myself," Kingsbury said.


Kingsbury expressed hope that rookie defensive linemen Rashard Lawrence (ankle) and Leki Fotu (ankle) would be back soon from Injured Reserve. He sounded more reserved about defensive lineman Jordan Phillips (hamstring), who is also on IR.

"I was proud of the unit that played (Sunday) and I thought Dom (Domata Peko Sr.) came in and gave us a good boost, played hard," Kingsbury said. "We just got to continue to build there with some of those young guys when they get back."

Lawrence's three-week window for being activated from IR closes Wednesday. If the Cards do not activate him, he must remain on IR for the balance of the season.


The Cardinals cut tight end Evan Baylis Monday, after signing him Saturday to the active roster from the practice squad. He is a candidate to once again be re-signed to the practice squad.

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