When Byron Murphy came into the NFL, the top guy at his position just happened to be one of the stars of the team. Murphy was locker neighbors with Patrick Peterson, a guy he looked up to and "also a brother to me."
Peterson and Murphy are linked in other ways. Murphy was the Cardinals' No. 1 cornerback by default that first season because Peterson got a suspension for the first six weeks of the season and Robert Alford was injured for the year. Sunday, Murphy – who has earned the title of the Cards' No. 1 corner and played like it in the opener – will see Peterson playing for the Vikings.
"It's going to be a little different," Murphy admitted.
Murphy was excellent, earning one of the top 10 cornerback grades in the league from Pro Football Focus (as did Robert Alford) last week. He got burned on the flea-flicker, but did a great job in recovering to make the tackle and save for the time being the touchdown, and then broke up a pass to Julio Jones in the end zone on the next play.
"Can't have two back to back," Murphy said.
The Cardinals' cornerback room has gone through a ton since 2020 ended. The Cards let Peterson walk as a free agent. They prayed Alford would stay healthy. They lost presumed Peterson replacement Malcolm Butler to retirement. They decided to count on rising fourth-round pick Marco Wilson.
Yes, the pass rush was a factor, but the group did a nice job against Julio Jones and A.J. Brown last week. There is no question the pass rush helped the secondary in Tennessee, but in reviewing the video, there were definitely times when Ryan Tannehill was about to throw a pass, only to pull it down and then get sacked. The coverage mattered.
"(Last week) was a good test for us and I liked the way we held up as a whole group," Murphy said.
Now they get Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and Peterson gets D-Hop or A.J. Green. A glimpse of Cardinals cornerbacks, past and present.
-- No, I don't think this is just another game for Patrick Peterson. (Neither does former teammate Daryn Colledge, by the way.) He can say it all he wants, but it's never like that for even the most even-keeled of players, and P2 is too emotional in this area for him to be able to brush it aside. It makes a difference to him how he's seen, what reception he'll get. He spent too much time this offseason talking about his end in Arizona (or indirectly commenting on Malcolm Butler's retirement) to believe otherwise.
All that said, I think fans should welcome him back. Yes, from the 2018 trade request on, it was nothing but bumpy roads. But he was a hell of a player for a long time. But that's me, everyone has their feelings on the subject, and we'll see how it goes.
-- You'd think Peterson is going to guard DeAndre Hopkins a lot of the time. So that would likely leave veteran Bashaud Breeland – who struggled mightily in the Vikings' season-opener against the Bengals – on A.J. Green. Kyler Murray said Green will get better with more time in the offense (he had just two catches last week on six targets, and him crashing into Christian Kirk on a third-and-short slant makes tangible how they are still getting on the same page) and it just feels like Green will make an impact play or two.
-- Sunday marks the first Cardinals' regular-season home game without Larry Fitzgerald on the roster since the end of 2003 – a game in which the Vikings also were the opponent.
-- If you've been to a preseason game this year you know, but don't forget about the digital parking pass and please please have it ready to go when you roll up to the lot. All the info about game day is here.
-- After last week's game, Hopkins said Murray was willing to get in guys' faces to hold them accountable. He wasn't specific, but Murray was – Kyler said there was a moment when he got into Hopkins and Rondale Moore.
"We're just trying to win," Murray said. "I want them to do what they are coached to do. When we don't, it calls for that. It is what it is."
Murray was asked if he was comfortable in that role of getting after teammates. He didn't hesitate. "Yeah."
-- Murphy, after tangling with Julio Jones last week and getting Jones to draw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. "I think he was kind of mad at me. I don't know what went into it, but that kind of goes with the game. I'm just out there competing, I know he's competing, but I'm never going to back down from nobody."
-- This feels like another game in which linebacker Isaiah Simmons will excel.
-- Does J.J. Watt get his first Cardinals' sack (I'm going to say yes.) Does Chandler Jones get the one sack he needs to be the all-time franchise leader with 67? (I'm going to say yes.)
See you Sunday.