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Colt McCoy Goes 'Green Zone' As He Prepares To Be Cardinals QB

With Kyler Murray rehabbing, veteran in line to start Week 1

Veteran Colt McCoy is expected to be the Cardinals' Week 1 starter at quarterback with Kyler Murray rehabbing his knee.
Veteran Colt McCoy is expected to be the Cardinals' Week 1 starter at quarterback with Kyler Murray rehabbing his knee.

Eventually, as any good quarterback must, Colt McCoy wants to flourish in the red zone.

First, however, he wants to prosper in the Green Zone.

That's the place the veteran quarterback takes himself mentally this time of year, with the Cardinals early in training camp and he, like everyone, learning a new offensive system. With Kyler Murray on the PUP list and unlikely to be ready to play when the season begins, it is McCoy – in year 13 – who is expected to be the starting QB.

But that isn't something he wants to think about. Not yet.

"I'm staying in what I call the Green Zone, really locked in to right now, each meeting, each practice," McCoy said after Monday's practice. "It is really helping me kind of figure out what I like in this offense, how do I see myself executing this. I think I'm going to stay in that zone."

It's been a minute since McCoy has gone into a training camp as starter. The only other time it happened was 2011, McCoy's second year in the league when he was playing for Cleveland, when he started the first 13 games of the season.

Given Murray's murky return timeline, McCoy doesn't know how long this starting stint might last (and at this early juncture, whether at some point the Cardinals might be willing to give rookie Clayton Tune a chance.)

That's another reason why he doesn't want to think too far ahead.

"(Offensive coordinator) Drew (Petzing) is asking a lot of us," McCoy said. "He's putting a lot on my plate. He's asking a lot (of the offense) … to see what we can handle. Some days it doesn't look great right now. We're going through some growing pains."

Petzing knows McCoy will have his own learning curve but the first-year OC – who is six months younger than McCoy – also knows McCoy's experience can help the offense in myriad ways.

"He's certainly trying to learn a new system – it's a new language and he hasn't been in this offense – but he's played a lot of football," Petzing said. "Nothing we're going to do is wildly revolutionize or change the game of football on day one, so having Colt's experience, having his understanding, as a teammate, as a leader, as a quarterback, I think is valuable for that room, valuable for the offense and valuable for me."

McCoy had a chuckle when asked if he ever mixes up verbiage from a past offense he has played in with his current one -- "There are times when I have spit out words and no one knows what I am talking about" – but he was confident the mistakes made in late July/early August would be fixed by the time the season begins.

The Cardinals' offense figures to be considerably different than the one under former coach Kliff Kingsbury. There will be more work under center, more multiple tight end sets, more commitment to running, more play-action.

Watching how Murray works in that framework will be fascinating to see, but Petzing is confident the coaching staff will be able to adjust when McCoy is playing and then when Murray returns.

"Your offense has to be big enough to adapt to the person who has the ball in their hands," Petzing said. "Will that be the same when Colt is out there as when Kyler is out there, when Clayton is out there, (Jeff) Driskel or (David) Blough? No. Certainly we will tailor to their strengths but at the same point you want to have enough.

"Kyler is a great quarterback and certainly we know what he is good at, and when he's out there I think I have an idea of the direction we need to go and the same is true for Colt."

There is hard work involved. But another thing McCoy's experience has shown him is to enjoy the moment. This deep into his career, it was unlikely he'd be starting again, but here he is. That's fun, and fun definitely belongs in the Green Zone.

"It's a joy to play this game," McCoy said. "It's fun. It can be very challenging at times. There is a lot of pressure with it. You're under a microscope. If you understand that, come to work day to day and smile. Put your arm around the young guys. We're all going to make mistakes but play your best, lead by example and have fun."

Images from 2023 Cardinals Training Camp at State Farm Stadium

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