Kyler Murray looked like a different player near the end of Sunday’s 27-27 tie against the Lions.
Through the first three quarters, the rookie quarterback completed only 9-of-25 passes for 70 yards and an interception. After that, he was 20-of-29 for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t surprised to see Murray step up in a crucial spot after cataloguing similar performances during the pre-draft process.
“We did some analytics on his fourth quarter statistics last year at OU, and it’s insane, his numbers,” Kingsbury said. “The completion percentage, the touchdown-to-interception ratio, the yards per carry. That was something prior to the draft process that we were fascinated by, his fourth-quarter stats and what he did in close ballgames.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Murray was 40-of-58 for 546 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions in the fourth quarter with the Sooners last year.
Kingsbury believes Murray’s late-game success stems from both his resolve and an ability to adjust to a defense’s scheme. He loves that Murray doesn’t shy away from the moment.
“I think a lot of it has to do with his competitive nature,” Kingsbury said. “When the game is on the line, he wants the ball in his hands. He wants to be making plays. That’s something you can’t coach.”
GILBERT OUT AGAINST RAVENS, BUT CRABTREE EXPECTED TO PLAY
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (knee) will not play against the Ravens on Sunday, Kingsbury said, and the Cardinals worked out tackles on Monday as they explore their options at the position.
Justin Murray started in Gilbert’s place against Detroit one week after the team claimed him on waivers from the Raiders.
“It was a good start (for Murray), no question,” Kingsbury said. “We’re obviously going to continue to try to upgrade the roster every week, have workouts and see where that goes. But for that short of notice, I thought he performed at a high level.”
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree is expected to make his season debut against the Ravens, whom he played for in 2018. He was inactive Sunday and Kingsbury said he thought Crabtree needed another week to be ready mentally and physically.
The Cardinals primarily used Damiere Byrd and KeeSean Johnson on the outside against Detroit, and it’s uncertain how the rotation will look with Crabtree now in that mix. Second-round pick Andy Isabella returned kicks on Sunday but did not play on offense, though Kingsbury is confident the rookie receiver will eventually find a role.
“He’s still developing, and he’s behind some really, really good players inside there in (Larry) Fitzgerald and (Christian) Kirk,” Kingsbury said. “It’s hard to take reps from those guys at this point, but he’s got some dynamic speed and some traits that will make him a really good player one day.”
CARDINALS RE-SIGN VUJNOVICH
The Cardinals re-signed guard Jeremy Vujnovich, who was released on Saturday before the opener. Tight end Darrell Daniels, who was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster in Vujnovich’s place, was released.
Daniels, who was inactive for the game, could return to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Some of the top images from the regular season opener on Sunday