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GM Steve Keim: Kyler Murray Needs To Play, But Keep Him Safe

Steve Keim was blunt Friday morning. The General Manager has a number of things he wants to see out of rookie quarterback Kyler Murray Saturday in Minnesota, and he knows Murray will play the most he'll play in the preseason. But does Keim want to see Murray come out after halftime and play a series in the third quarter?

"No," Keim said with a chuckle during his appearance on the "Doug and Wolf" show on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. Also, Keim said, "I prefer he not run a lot."

There are no official limitations on Murray (such as "don't run ever") in preseason. Still, there is a hold-the-breath angle to all this, underscored when Keim and everyone else say Panthers quarterback Cam Newton go down with an injury on a sack Friday night (early reports say Newton sprained his foot.) That's what the Cardinals can't afford to have happen. "But you've also got to play football," Keim acknowledged, and for Murray, who is still learning the game, he is not experienced enough in the NFL to afford to sit out the preseason. So the Cards will get him his needed reps, and hope nothing bad happens.

-- The Cardinals monitored free-agent wide receiver Michael Crabtree (who is not expected to make the trip to Minnesota) all the way back to the beginning of free agency. Keim didn't get into the reasons why Crabtree remained on the market, including the two-week period between the time the Cards brought him in for a workout and eventually agreeing to a contract. But Keim said Crabtree, who turns 32 in mid-September, still has the quickness and movement skills to perform well. Crabtree can play either of the outside receiver spots, Keim added, noting that he isn't "blazing" in his speed but that he is a crafty route runner and "very sudden" in and out of breaks, especially for a bigger receiver.

"There is no doubt he is going to catch a lot of balls," Keim said.

-- Keim said the Cardinals liked defensive lineman Bruce Hector as he was coming out of South Florida in 2018, and were happy to trade for him Thursday. Hector can play all the inside positions on the defensive line, Keim said. "To find a young defensive lineman to give depth and play in the rotation is a real plus," Keim said.

-- While Tramaine Brock/Byron Murphy/Chris Jones will have a chance to show they can hold down the fort at cornerback in the absences of Patrick Peterson (suspension) and Robert Alford (broken leg), Keim definitely didn't close the door on alternatives, mentioning the "opportunities" that likely will arise through potential trades or waiver claims.

-- Speaking of the waiver claims to come, Keim certainly sounds like he will be busy given that the Cards will get anyone they want being first in the claim order. As the roster stands right now, Keim estimated there are 4-to-6 spots on the 53-man squad still available. But he also said the personnel department just put together a spreadsheet noting every place the Cards might be able to upgrade the depth through waiver claims and the NFL's final cutdown. If the right player is there, "I'm going to pull the trigger."

-- Keim didn't update much the hand injury of wide receiver Hakeem Butler, only saying they needed to keep him in shape the best they could and mentally engaged for when he is able to return.

-- The third preseason game has lost a little importance, Keim acknowledged. "I don't know if it's that dress rehearsal game anymore," he said. But it still means something to see the back half of the roster work, and to see the competition level of the starters. The penalties need to be cut way back. "Let's look like we know what we're doing out there," Keim said, adding "it doesn't take a whole lot to play with passion or energy. That's what I want to see."

GM Steve Keim