Christian Kirk can’t help but remember.
“It was an interesting year for me,” the Cardinals wide receiver said of the 2015 season at Texas A&M, when his two quarterbacks were Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen – the two quarterbacks who will likely both be starting Sunday, when the Cards host the Carolina Panthers.
Murray is entrenched with the Cardinals, while Allen – who went to high school at Scottsdale Desert Mountain -- is probably going to play in place of injured starter Cam Newton. Back in 2015, however, the two were battling to be the starter for the Aggies.
Allen, a sophomore, beat out Murray, a true freshman, at first. Allen started six games, got benched for Murray before the two traded starts and was eventually demoted to third string. Allen transferred in the offseason to Houston – not long before Murray himself transferred to Oklahoma, also unhappy with the situation.
“Football is so full circle, us three being teammates, with Kyle starting that year and then Kyler coming in, just bouncing back and forth, and then those two ending up leaving,” Kirk said. “Crazy how they could potentially be playing against each other.”
Murray said he and Allen got along. “I mean, it was a tough situation,” Murray added.
Allen’s college career didn’t play out as he expected, given that he was once the top QB recruit in the country. But he’s found a place with the Panthers, with coincidence leading him back to the A&M storyline this week.
“That was (Kyler’s) first year out of high school and he had never lost a game. Always started,” Allen said. “I started in the beginning of the year and they would put him in for some run packages. Then he started a couple games and I started the last couple. I think for both of us it was just an interesting year with some adversity.
“Two talented kids in the same room. Obviously, the decisions worked out in different ways. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I think he’s a really good quarterback.”
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, at Texas Tech at the time, said he recruited Allen “briefly,” as he did Murray later.
“He was the No. 1 prospect in the country, so he probably threw all our letters away and red-buttoned me every time I called him, but I remember watching him,” Kingsbury said. “I’ve always had a very high regard of him as a player.”
Kirk and Allen were close childhood friends since the fifth grade, and Allen was the biggest reason Kirk chose to go to A&M. His recollection was that Murray and Allen handled their season together “pretty well.”
Allen beat out rookie Will Grier as the backup this training camp, and played well for the Panthers late last season in Newton’s stead, throwing two touchdown passes in a win over the Saints in the 2018 finale. That was his lone previous start.
“I don’t really have control over who starts over there,” Murray said. “That’s their deal. I just have to get ready to play and whoever is their quarterback is their quarterback.”
RIGHT TACKLE SPOT UNDECIDED
Justin Murray has been the Cardinals’ starting right tackle the first two games after Marcus Gilbert’s season-ending knee injury, but after Murray struggled more often in Baltimore, there is a chance Jordan Mills – signed as a free agent last week – could end up getting the gig against the Panthers.
“We’re going to work through that,” Kingsbury said. “We like the two guys we brought in, Jordan and Justin, so they’re going to practice this week and see where it goes.”
PETERS, HICKS SIT OUT
Two key defensive players, defensive tackle Corey Peters (knee) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (groin) sat out practice Wednesday as the Cards began the week.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (hamstring), offensive lineman Lamont Gaillard (knee) and linebacker Ezekiel Turner (hand/hamstring) also did not practice, while wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald took a veteran’s day off. Tight end Charles Clay was also limited because of his veteran’s status.
Running back David Johnson is listed on the injury report with his wrist injury, but he practiced fully.
For the Panthers, Newton didn’t practice for a second straight day because of an injured foot. Also not practicing Wednesday were safety Rashaan Gaulden (groin), tackle Brandon Greene (neck), linebacker Bruce Irvin (hamstring) and defensive end Kawaan Short (shoulder). Tight end Greg Olsen (back) was limited.
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders from halftime and other moments at the home opener