Patrick Peterson wasn’t there, and then Robert Alford wasn’t there, and no, it wasn’t the way the Cardinals wanted to introduce the NFL to rookie cornerback Byron Murphy. But it was the way Murphy wanted it to go.
(OK, maybe not the P2-suspended-Alford-breaks-leg portion, but you get the idea.)
“My whole mindset since I got here was go in right away,” Murphy said. “I didn’t want to come in and sit. That was the mindset, to get to work right away. Once the situation (with Alford and Peterson) happened, it was ‘OK, you’ve got to grow up fast.’ It wasn’t a stressful thing, anything I was worried about. I felt I was there for a reason.”
So now we are to Week 7. The Cardinals are flying to New York to play the Giants, Peterson has finally returned to man one of the Cards’ cornerback spots. Alford is still hurt, but no matter, Murphy’s trial-by-fire means he’ll be Peterson’s No. 2. Tramaine Brock figures to be the slot guy, and while the Cardinals get to readjust their defense – in a good way – the force-feeding of Murphy at this point turned out to be a good thing.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said he thinks Murphy held his own during his six-game baptism, and insists he has two guys on the outside with both Peterson and Murphy who can work on an island and allow Joseph to turn up the pressure on passing downs. Murphy smiles at the idea of being one-on-one, saying Peterson’s return will definitely change how the Cardinals have done some things.
As for Peterson, he too likes what he’s seen from his rookie counterpart.
“If we’re going to be as good as we want to be as a man-to-man team, it starts at the line of scrimmage,” Peterson said. “(Byron) doesn’t lack confidence at all. He’s a silent assassin, and we just have to make sure that he understands what teams want to do to him so he can start eliminating certain things versus trying to cover the whole playbook.”
-- Speaking of Peterson, Joseph marveled at the notebook Peterson returned to the facility with, full of ideas and suggestions and thoughts on what the Cardinals had done on defense. (While suspended Peterson wasn’t allowed to take home a tablet, NFL Gamepass is a wonderful thing with all-22 video.) Joseph said Peterson had gameplanning ideas, a notion that Joseph embraces, especially from an accomplished player like Peterson.
-- If David Johnson can’t go with his ankle, that would be a (significant) wrench in things. Chase Edmonds has had a good start to the season, but a Johnson-less offense isn’t what you want. Now with the news D.J. Foster will not play with a bad hamstring, it's a precarious spot at running back (although Johnson didn't sound like a guy concerned he wouldn't be able to play when he talked Friday.)
-- The Cardinals are giving up a ton of yards and points, and the return of running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram figures to be a problem. Then again, the Giants’ defense has been hurt frequently, especially through the air – so the Cardinals might find themselves in the sort of game they just played last week against the Falcons. Kyler Murray should have chances to do damage with his arm, even if Christian Kirk doesn’t play.
-- The Cardinals’ offensive line has been solid. It’s a group that understandably has been criticized, but now that Justin Murray has settled in at right tackle and the other four – Humphries, Pugh, Shipley, Sweezy – have stayed healthy and gained comfort in the offense, it’s turned out OK.
-- The Giants had some fun earlier in the week with the idea veteran, two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning was trying to replicate Murray. For all of Manning’s success, he’s the backup now in New York to rookie Daniel Jones, and that’s what backups do – work as the opposing team’s QB on scout looks. Of course, in Manning – 38 years old, slow and 6-foot-5 – you can’t get any more of a disparate QB than Murray.
“Eli looks great doing the Kyler Murray impression,” former Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea told New York Newsday, chuckling as he said it. “Everybody gave him a hard time, but he’s giving us some good looks back there.”
-- Former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher – who interviewed for the head coaching vacancy that eventually went to Steve Wilks after Bruce Arians retired – now has the same job in New York. But he downplayed the idea he might try to show something to the Cardinals with Sunday’s game.
“It’s not about that at all,” he told the New York media. “I have a ton of respect of a lot of people in that building,” specifically mentioning GM Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill.
-- Kingsbury said it was “crazy” to even suggest that a quarterback shouldn’t sneak the ball, in light of his former college QB Patrick Mahomes damaging his kneecap on a QB sneak Thursday night in a game.
“I think the best to do it ever, by far, sneaks it four times a game,” Kingsbury said about his former Patriots teammate, Tom Brady.
In terms of Kyler Murray, he isn’t as big as some QBs, but “he’s sneaky though,” Kingsbury said of Murray on such a play. “Find the smaller gaps. That’s what I try to convince him of. We’re not going to be like Tom (Brady), he’s a magician at that. That won’t be our go-to, but we’ll mix it in.”
-- Sure, the Cardinals go to New York today, but next year, the Cardinals go to New York twice – playing both the Jets and Giants on the road. Oh, the Cardinals also have to visit New England next season. Lotsa long plane flights.
But that's 2020. One game at a time, right?
See you Sunday.