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Kyler And Baker, And Friday Before The Panthers

Marquise Brown is the owner of two 1,000-yard college seasons – one each from Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray – and the wide receiver considers both friends.

He was asked on this week’s “Big Red Rage” to compare the two quarterbacks, who happen to be facing each other Sunday when the Cardinals visit the Panthers in Carolina.

"If you did one of the (Venn) diagrams with the two circles, they are both on the outside, their on their own things," Brown said, chuckling. "The only thing they have the same is how bad they want to win."

Mayfield, Brown said, "he's going to want to beat K1." And there is never an opponent or a competition Murray doesn't want to win. This won't be any different. Murray is trying to stay undefeated against his former college teammate, having beat Mayfield head-to-head twice when Mayfield was with the Browns.

Mayfield is in a different spot now, struggling mightily with the Panthers (he has the lowest QBR of any starter in the league). Then again, Murray is still trying to find consistency himself, as is the whole Cardinals' offense.

"I talked to (Baker) I think it was before they played the Giants or after they played Giants, but other than that it hasn't really been a big deal in that manner," Murray said. "Obviously, we're both 1-2 so he's got his own things going on. The main focus is really just trying to get a win. I'm going love to see him obviously, but as far as the competitive nature of the game every week we've got to win a game."

-- Murray and Mayfield do have another offseason time they get together. Filming the annual “Heisman House” commercials.

"To be able to have the privilege to be able to do that with him it's a blessing," Murray said. "As a little kid I always wanted to be a part of that fraternity. It's a big deal, so I know he doesn't take it for granted and neither do I."

-- Not ideal, with all the wide receiver issues, to have Brown pop up on the injury report Friday with a foot issue that limited him in practice and made him questionable for the game. I am guessing he will play, but if he can't? Whooo boy.

-- That said, I do think the Cardinals will have Rondale Moore for the first time this season. He is anxious to get on the field. The rest of us are anxious to see how he is deployed and if it is significantly different than how he was used last season.

-- The Cardinals are one of the top-teams in ESPN's pass-rush win-rate, but they have only two sacks, both by J.J. Watt. (I would expect Watt, listed as questionable, to play Sunday.) Shut out thus far is everyone else, including Markus Golden.

"It's been weird games, the way the games have gone, but there is no excuse," said Golden, who had 11 sacks last season. "You gotta get in there in the rush. If I were to get a couple of sacks but not have pressure (the rest of the time) or not be winning games -- of course you want sacks, that's what it's about. But you want to be able to bring pressure and make sure you're on the quarterback hits too. All that helps win a game."

-- Scoring a little something would really help the Cardinals Sunday. It definitely would hurt the Panthers. Since Matt Rhule took over as coach in 2020, the Panthers are 10-0 when they allow 16 or fewer points. That in itself isn't too crazy. But. In that same timespan, when the Panthers allow at least 17 points? They are 1-25.

-- The Cardinals, in three games, have already gone for it on fourth down an astounding 14 times. Even better, they have converted 10 of them. (Compare that to their 12-of-43 on third downs.) That's more than Kliff Kingsbury would like, and obviously the Cardinals were forced into some of them because of the deficits they faced.

Kingsbury gets analytics in real time about what the numbers might say whether to go or not, but the coach ultimately makes the final call.

"Before the game I'll go through and say, 'These are my go-tos in must-have situations,' " Kingsbury said. "We are usually pretty decisive on that. Like Las Vegas, when you get down to your fourth two-point play or fourth-fourth down call, it gets a little dodgy."

-- Since 2001, the Cardinals had never had more than one scoring drive of at least 16 plays in a game. They had three – 16, 17 and 19 plays – against the Rams. (All field goals, unfortunately.) The Cardinals have only had at least three such drives in an entire season before, and that was four last year. They already have four this season.

-- Former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks is on the Panthers coaching staff. He was the Carolina defensive coordinator when the Cardinals hired him. He is now the Panthers' defensive pass game coordinator under DC Phil Snow (a one-time Arizona State coach.)

-- Defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence suffered a freak broken hand when he simply tried to shed a Rams blocker last week. He had surgery and once the stitches come out, he is hopeful in the next couple of weeks he will be able to play with a cast. But for now Lawrence, who was playing well, can only shake his head knowing he still hasn't been able to avoid injury in any of his three seasons.

"It's very frustrating," he said. "It's like a nightmare I can't wake up out of."

-- The last time the Cardinals scored a touchdown on their opening possession was in Week 13 last season, a 20-yard D-Hop TD catch in the rain (on fourth down) in Chicago.

-- Murray said he's willing to run if asked, but his running remains a topic. He only has run the ball 12 times this season – five attempts in each of the first two games, and two last week.

-- For all the concern of weather, the forecast as of this writing is a 15 percent chance of rain at kickoff with light winds. Right now, weather will be a non-factor.

-- The last word goes to Murray, who was told the Panthers game will be the 50th of his career.

"Fifty games, that's a lot of games," Murray said. "It doesn't feel like it, honestly. That's crazy. No, it doesn't feel like it at all."

See you Sunday.

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