OK, about Kyler Murray learning new footwork ...
"It felt a little goofy initially," the quarterback said of the notion that, instead of setting up with his right foot forward on the snap he is now doing it left foot up as requested by the new coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Drew Petzing acknowledged left-over-right is a preference and not a must, which is to say Murray wasn't doing it wrong. Just different.
But to have everything come together in the passing game like the Cardinals would like, this is how Kyler must learn to operate.
"We just think it puts the quarterback in better rhythm to go through his progressions, make his decisions and get the ball out," Petzing said.
Petzing said he had to teach the left-foot up way in 2022 to three QBs in Cleveland. Those guys, of course, were able to work on it in the offseason and "hit the ground running" in training camp. Murray didn't really have that chance, although Murray was shown what to do and was able to work on it some on his own as he rehabbed.
However, "nothing's the same when doing it full speed with the guys out there running routes," Murray acknowledged. "I couldn't really get those reps in, so once I got back that was kind of me playing catch up while I was trying to build back up to start."
Still, he said it's becoming "first nature." And Petzing dismissed the idea that any of Murray's issues right now throwing are footwork-based. "His feet have had little to no impact on that," Petzing said.
Murray said after the Rams loss that he was remaining optimistic about moving forward and learning everything he needs to learn – and that's ongoing, no question. Playing such a good defense in Pittsburgh will certainly be a litmus test, not only of his footwork, but his overall grasp of the offense right now.
Everyone has mentioned growing pains. They aren't over.
"We've got to break old habits," Murray said. "We're learning as the weeks go on trying to execute at the highest level as we possibly can. I think that's part of being in a new system. I haven't been in very many new systems, but being in this one I don't think that we've reached our maximum level of what we're going to be eventually."
-- During an appearance on the "Wolf and Luke" show on Arizona Sports 98.7, GM Monti Ossenfort talked about the release of tight end Zach Ertz. "One of the bad parts of football is injuries, and Zach worked himself hard to come back (from his ACL) and be out there for us on opening week. Hats off to Zach for all the work that went into that. He got banged up and had to go on IR and work his way back from that. We had some things happen, where Trey McBride really came on, asserted himself and really became a focal point of our offense.
"When it came down to it, Zach had interest in going to seek other opportunities. Given where our team is at and where we were at in that tight end room … we had conversations with Zach and this ended up being the best thing for both parties."
-- Coach Jonathan Gannon had an inauspicious start to his travel day on Friday morning. He was unable to get the gate open at his house, preventing him from getting his car out of the driveway. He had to call an Uber to get to the Dignity Health Training Center. "Not cool," Gannon deadpanned, although the coach seemed to be in excellent spirits heading into Week 13's game.
-- The Cardinals will be without wide receiver Michael Wilson for a third straight game, and the team never did put him on IR – which would indicate they are hopeful he'll be back sooner. But his shoulder problems derailed a promising rookie season. I'm sure both Hollywood Brown and tight end Trey McBride are going to do what they can to play, and that will be crucial for Murray. McBride did say he'd be "ready to go" on Sunday.
-- The Cardinals started the 31 Days of Giveaways on Friday. The team will have 31 different giveaways this month, including autographed merch, gift cards, experiences and more. The earlier one signs up, the more prizes you can win. Visit azcardinals.com/31-days-of-giveaways
-- The Cardinals have done a nice job taking care of the ball for the most part. Their problem is when they take away the ball, it's not translating into points – and that's costing chances to win. The Cardinals have won the turnover battle six times this season, and yet they are 1-5 in those games (a plus-8 in those games.) The Cardinals have 12 takeaways in those six games, but have only scored 16 points off the takeaways – and 10 of those points came Week 1 in Washington. The Cardinals don't have a point off a takeaway in the last five games.
-- The Steelers are tied with the 49ers in turnover margin themselves (plus-11) but like the Cardinals, they haven't been doing much with the turnovers: Only seven points scored off their five takeaways the last four games.
Not that the Steelers need to score – they are allowing only 15 points a game over their past seven games. A challenge for a Cardinals offense that is already struggling.
-- Uniform update: The Cardinals will wear their normal white-on-white ensemble, which if it rains as expected, will likely become a rough cleaning job for Jeff Schwimmer and the equipment staff.
-- The Cardinals need more James Conner and the running game. Conner had just six carries last week against the Rams, for 27 yards. They need that balance as Murray tries to get into a groove throwing the ball. Here's the rub: While the Steelers struggled against the run early in the season – allowing 137 yards a game through Week 8 – they have been excellent since (when defensive end Cam Heyward returned from injury) in allowing just 85.5 yards a game in that span. The Cardinals are 10th in the NFL with 121.8 rushing yards a game.
-- There is no way to replicate the cold and rain the Cardinals might see Sunday in Pittsburgh, but they did effort mood – they played the famed Styx song "Renegade," which the Steelers use at crucial times late in the game, during Thursday's practice. (The Cardinals, like many teams, play music throughout practice every day.)
-- Pat P, it's like you never left. Since Patrick Peterson left as a free agent after the 2020 season, he will now play the Cardinals for a third straight season. He was with the Vikings the past two years when he faced the Cards in Arizona in 2021 and in Minnesota in 2022. Now he's with the Steelers. Morphing into more of a nickel/safety role in Pittsburgh, P2 has an interception and his 10 passes defensed are tied for best on the team.
-- The last word comes from Conner, who returns to Pittsburgh for the first time since leaving the Steelers as a free agent. Conner was asked if he thought the offense was "close" to success.
"Close? Yeah, but close doesn't do much for you."
See you Sunday.