He is in the NFL now with an obvious upgrade in talent around him, but Andy Isabella could only smile Friday when asked about catching passes from his new quarterback, Kyler Murray.
“Probably the best I’ve ever been thrown,” the rookie receiver from UMass said. “Dream come true, basically.”
To that notion, Murray was all but speechless. “That’s flattering,” the Cardinals’ top draft choice said with a chuckle.
Murray is used to praise, after going undefeated as a high school quarterback, after winning the Heisman Trophy in his lone season playing full time in college, after becoming the top pick in the NFL draft. Truthfully, there wasn’t a lot to be learned at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center after one practice of the team’s rookie minicamp.
But at least the Cardinals were playing some football, which Murray certainly didn’t mind.
“A lot of this process has been a lot of talk and evaluation,” Murray said. “Just to be able to play football again with the guys, to do what you love, it’s fun.”
Coach Kliff Kingsbury, working closely with the quarterbacks during the workout, called Murray’s day “not bad.” Familiarity with Kingsbury’s system, given similarities with what Murray ran in college at Oklahoma, helped.
There will be a learning curve. Murray himself noted that he has yet to know how his young receivers like to run routes, where guys like Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson like the ball. There will be another learning curve to handle once Murray starts playing with veterans like Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
But Murray’s mentality already is in the right place, and Murray said he already felt a “rhythm” with Kingsbury.
“He’s been born and bred to do this,” Kingsbury said. “I’ve said it all along.”
Murray, surrounded by players as inexperienced as him, insisted he will not change once he starts to work with the veterans.
“I’m leading the same way, practicing the same way,” Murray said. “I’m trying to compete and be me.”
Perhaps the most difficult part of Murray’s opening day was the sore feet he suffered playing in a new pair of cleats, after an old pair he tried to get from home didn’t arrive in time. It had been awhile since he had worn cleats in the first place, Murray said, but now, football is here. Now is when Murray starts the process of showing why he was picked No. 1 overall.
It didn’t hurt that he impressed a teammate or two the first time out.
“He’s just so focused,” Isabella said. “But he makes me want to play harder. He definitely lifts up everyone around him.”