As Kyler Murray came to the line of scrimmage Sunday in Tennessee, veteran center Rodney Hudson turned to his quarterback to give some advice.
Seems that Hudson saw something with the Titans' defensive line that indicated they would be running a Cover Zero all-out blitz – even if they were doing a good job of disguising it. It was a tell he had found watching video of the Titans from the preseason.
"I saw it, and trusted it would happen," Hudson said.
Murray took the advice and moments later, found wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 17-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
"I've never experienced that with a young center, alerting me that was coming, that was something he knew was coming that most guys wouldn't or wouldn't see," Murray said. "(He's a) big-time difference for me."
Hudson is making a difference for Murray and the entire Cardinals' offense. Last year's starting center, Mason Cole, returns to Arizona Sunday as the Vikings' backup after he was traded in the offseason. The Cardinals came into the offseason needing an upgrade, and Hudson has been exactly that.
"He's not an outspoken guy until you get him on the football field and in those position meetings, the way he's directing traffic, the questions he's asking, he's all business all the time," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "It's been impressive. It's been great for all of us on the offensive side of the ball to hear his thoughts, his perspectives. We have changed things because he has better ways of doing things at times."
Hudson has already emerged as a significant leader on an offensive line full of veterans – left tackle D.J. Humphries joked he says to Hudson, "I'm gonna block the end until you tell me different," and Hudson was one of the players voted captain this season. He's a video-watching junkie, without any trappings of an ego.
Kingsbury said he is "invaluable" in helping groom Murray.
"I don't know from (Kyler's) perspective," Hudson said. "I just try to do my job and that way, I can make things easier not only for him but the guys next to me."
BEACHUM GAME-DAY DECISION, KENNARD OUT
Right tackle Kelvin Beachum (ribs) was limited at practice Friday after missing the first two days with his injury, and Kingsbury said he will be a game-day decision to play. If he can't go, Justin Murray will remain in the lineup. Linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) is out for Sunday.
For the Vikings, linebacker Anthony Barr (knee) is out and fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks, who injured his quadriceps in practice this week, is questionable, which could severely hamper the Vikings' front seven. Also out are tackle Christian Darrisaw (groin), defensive end Everson Griffen (concussion) and safety Harrison Hand (hamstring.)
ABOUT JOSH JONES' FIRST START
Kingsbury said the Cardinals "liked what we saw" out of second-year right guard Josh Jones in Tennessee.
"Definitely room for improvement," Kingsbury added. "But he's just gotten better and better since training camp since he made that transition inside. We like where he is heading."
With Justin Murray, a one-time right guard contender, getting reps when Beachum got hurt, the Cardinals also played veteran backup Brian Winters for 13 snaps in place of Jones in Tennessee. Since Sean Kugler arrived as offensive line coach, the Cardinals have used their backups for a handful of snaps in games to keep them sharp even when there are no injuries.
"They deserve to play," Kingsbury said.