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Evaluation Time For Aaron Murray, Zac Dysert

Notes: Cooper tries to find a role at cornerback; The challenge of covering Gronkowski

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New Cardinals practice squad quarterbacks Aaron Murray (9) and Zac Dysert (4) take part in Tuesday's workout.


When Aaron Murray got the news he was headed to the Cardinals' practice squad, he did not know there was another quarterback who would also be there.

The same went for Zac Dysert.

But soon after, they did find out, as the Cardinals seek out a potential future quarterback/future

backup/capable third-stringer at the position by officially bringing in both Murray and Dysert.

"It's the NFL, there is competition everywhere," said Murray, who was released by Kansas City after spending his first two NFL seasons there as a 2014 fifth-round pick. "You have to go out and compete to win your job anywhere. I'm excited to compete and show coaches what I can do."

Dysert said sharing the practice squad roster with Murray was "not a big deal."

"Competition is a good thing," said Dysert, a 2013 seventh-round pick of Denver who was cut by Miami and who has also spent time with Houston and Buffalo. "Brings the best out in me, at least."

The Cardinals needed a third option after cutting Matt Barkley. General Manager Steve Keim said on Arizona Sports Barkley had been invited back to the practice squad but he chose to go to the Bears' practice squad instead.

Reps are few and far between for the third quarterback once the regular-season begins – Barkley found that out last year after an early September trade – and will be harder to come by with two QBs. Coach Bruce Arians already knows it will be hard for either to pick up the offense, saying coaches will be moreso evaluating their raw quarterback talent as they run the scout teams.

Both Murray and Dysert stressed the need to take advantage of rare opportunities and mental reps. Only if Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton were both to be hurt would it make an impact on the season.

If that did happen, "whoever's playing, doesn't matter anyway," Arians said.

COOPER WAITS FOR CHANCE AT CORNERBACK

Cornerback Marcus Cooper caught the Cardinals' eye in the 2014 preseason, when he did a nice job covering Jaron Brown and J.J. Nelson while playing for the Chiefs, Arians said. So the team traded for him, sending a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft to get the 6-foot-2 cornerback.

How quickly Cooper can assimilate to his new team is to be determined. Rookie Brandon Williams figures to start across from Patrick Peterson against the Patriots, and Cooper certainly wasn't making any bold pronouncements Tuesday.

"Wherever they need me," Cooper said. "I'm just trying to come in and make a positive impact on the team."

Cooper had made three interceptions in 2013 during his rookie season and earned high praise, but his playing time dropped off as the last two years went on – something for which he didn't have an explanation.

"I'm not sure," Cooper said. "I just come in, do as they tell me, and try and stay off the radar. Guess it just wasn't my time there."

DEFENDING GRONK

The Cardinals face the best tight end in the game – and arguably, one of the best in NFL history – Sunday night in Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots have also added tight end Martellus Bennett, himself one of the better tight ends in the league.

But Arians said all the Cardinals can do is play their defense.

"We geared our defense the last three years to help stop tight ends because we got hurt by tight ends our first year (in 2013)," Arians said. With players like moneybacker Deone Bucannon, "we match up OK."

Safety Tyvon Branch has had some success against Gronkowski in the past while playing for the Raiders, but wasn't claiming insight.

"You just study film and go in with a game plan and try to execute it as well as you can," Branch said. "He's a freak athlete. You're only going to be so successful against him. He's going to make his plays so you just have to make your plays."

SMOKEY DOING OK

The first official injury report of the week doesn't come out until Wednesday, but Arians said it should be relatively short. Linebacker Kareem Martin, who hurt his knee in the final preseason game, won't be available judging by Arians' previous timelines.

One player who should be ready is wide receiver John "Smokey" Brown, who said he was "OK" coming off a concussion in training camp. Brown did practice last week and played in the final preseason game. He said he could do whatever is needed against the Patriots.

"Whatever it is, whatever coach puts me at, I accept the role," Brown said.

Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the final preseason game



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