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Clayton Tune Time Nears If Kyler Murray Remains On Hold

Rookie quarterback might start in Cleveland 

Rookie quarterback Clayton Tune takes the ball in his one NFL snap thus far -- a fake punt in Seattle in Week 7.
Rookie quarterback Clayton Tune takes the ball in his one NFL snap thus far -- a fake punt in Seattle in Week 7.

Should Clayton Tune play quarterback for the Cardinals this weekend, it will be his first NFL start and first regular-season action with an offensive line.

But it won't be his first snap, and that might help the fifth-round rookie.

"I think there is a different point of view being on the sideline than being in the middle of the field, so getting that out of the way, that play did for me," Tune said about his fake punt/pass that he threw in Seattle Oct. 22.

"But it's a completely different ballgame when you're playing 70 snaps compared to one."

Tune's pass was complete to fellow rookie Michael Wilson. While the four-yard throw didn't pick up a first down, it gave Tune a taste of what he might get in Cleveland on Sunday.

There is still nothing official about who is quarterbacking the Cardinals on Sunday. Coach Jonathan Gannon said it will be Kyler Murray if Murray is finally ready to come off the PUP list; otherwise, Tune will get a start now that starter-for-the-first-eight-games Joshua Dobbs has been traded.

Murray was unavailable for comment.

"He's fired up, ready to go," Gannon said of the rehabbing Murray. "He was really good in the team meeting (Wednesday). Put him on the spot (with a question), he was excellent."

The Cardinals gave themselves a non-Kyler option for the Browns game when they re-signed veteran Jeff Driskel to the practice squad. Driskel had been on the practice squad until he was released when Murray's practice window opened. The team needed a third QB after Dobbs' departure.

If Murray were to play, then Tune would remain the backup. If Tune gets the start, it's likely Murray remains on PUP a few more days and Driskel would be elevated for Sunday to be the backup.

Murray officially was listed as full on Wednesday's injury report, but as the coaches have reiterated, it's more than just his physical state that will dictate his return to games.

"There are so many aspects of it, from an operational standpoint, from a decision-making standpoint, getting in and out of the huddle," offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said. "It'd be like someone playing a regular-season game on July 28th. Realistically, that's how many practices he's had, essentially.

"Getting him up to speed, getting him ready to go, that's a big task."

But Murray is impressing his teammates, many of whom had never worked with him on the field before.

"Last week he threw a pass in practice and (offensive lineman Trystan) Colon was like, 'Does it look like that every time, bro?'" tackle D.J. Humphries recalled with a smile. "'Oh you don't know. I forgot. I forgot.' It's a beautiful thing to see."

If Murray ends up waiting one more week – he must be activated no later than Nov. 8, and the next game is at home Nov. 12 against Atlanta – then Tune will get his chance.

Tune said he's prepared the same way he has all season, acknowledging there "is some merit" to the chance to sit as a rookie and watch the NFL game up close before getting a chance to play. In the meantime, there have been countless hours with Petzing and QB coach Israel Woolfork teaching Tune the game.

"He does things behind the scenes with those guys that gets him mental reps and with the communication standpoint of it," Gannon said. "And just learning football – NFL is different than college. Things Kyler might know, Clayton might not know.

"Just talking ball a lot of the time, and he's really taken to that."

Humphries said Tune gives off a good vibe handling the huddle, and Tune is confident he will have a grasp of his emotions if he plays.

But regardless of what happens with his first completion in his first start, that won't take away his brief moment in Seattle, nor the importance of the first pass of his career.

"It'll always be the Michael Wilson one," Tune said with a smile.


Besides Driskel, the Cardinals also re-signed wide receivers Andre Baccellia and Daniel Arias to the practice squad, as well as signing rookie running back Hassan Hall to the practice squad. Hall had been on the Browns' practice squad in September.

Photos of the Arizona Cardinals cheerleaders from the Cardinals matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, Week 8 of the 2023 season