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Kyler Murray Finds His Edge After Return From Knee Injury

Cardinals quarterback still trying to break old habits in new offense

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws a pass to wide receiver Rondale Moore during Sunday's win over the Falcons.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws a pass to wide receiver Rondale Moore during Sunday's win over the Falcons.

Back in his baseball-playing days, if Kyler Murray were to hit two home runs in a game, he didn't relax. He wondered how he could make sure he did it again.

In his life as Cardinals quarterback it is no different.

"You're always on edge," Murray said Wednesday, as he prepared for start No. 2 of his back-from-ACL-surgery season. "You're never really comfortable. Great players understand when you are always on edge, whatever zone you're in you're trying to stay in it however you get in it as long as possible."

Murray's first game back wasn't perfect. But it was a victory, and the fifth-year signal-caller didn't look any different from the player he had been before his injury.

Murray acknowledged during the game he kept asking around "How's it look, how's it look?" to anyone who would listen. But in the end, "it didn't feel rusty," he said. "I felt good. I felt confident."

That was one. Now comes his first road trip, in Houston against the surprising Texans, against a defense curated by head coach and former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

"You've got to start over, you've got to get back in the lab, you've got to make sure you put together a good plan," offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said of Kyler Week 2.

There was nothing offensively that was held back, Petzing said, and while Murray spent all but nine of his snaps in shotgun, Petzing reiterated he has no problem putting Murray under center when the situation calls.

The Cardinals had "a couple hiccups" operationally, Petzing said, but the OC took as much of the blame for that as having a quarterback in his first start of the season. But Petzing did note Murray's transition to a new offensive language that will take time.

Despite being in all the meetings from the spring on with the new coaching staff, Murray still found a learning curve in actual game situations.

"Being in the moment, and not being able to go to what I would normally go to, having to stay with what we are doing now, there are definitely some old habits that want to creep back in when you are out there," Murray said. "But it is good breaking those habits and trusting the process."

There will be a process. Tight end Trey McBride had a career day playing with Murray with eight catches for 131 yards, but he and Murray also weren't on the same page on the play that led to Murray's lone interception.

"I thought Kyler did a good job for the first week really working with us," McBride said.

"I think it was awesome flow even though it's our first week together," tackle Paris Johnson added. "I think it felt really natural."

Long past the difficult part of his injury – Murray said it's all a blur now – the quarterback believes he is better for having gone through the injury and right where he is supposed to be in the moment.

Smiles happened often, both Sunday after the win and again Wednesday.

Then again, Murray is also staying with that edge.

"A lot of people keep saying, 'Oh he's a better leader now' this and that, I just think people … I don't want to get too much into it," Murray said, catching himself. "But the light's different right now. People around me, teammates, everybody, it's just a different energy."

Images of the Cardinals practicing at the Dignity Health Sports Complex before the Week 11 regular season matchup against the Houston Texans