Kyler Murray was going to play last week and then he didn't, and being held out of the preseason opener didn't exactly bother the Cardinals' quarterback.
"I definitely wasn't mad about it," Murray said with a chuckle.
Working a starting quarterback into the preseason has become a philosophical quandary for NFL teams. Is the work a player might get worth the risk? And if the risk is removed, it the work making a difference in getting a player ready in the first place?
Murray acknowledged he will play some snaps against the Chiefs Friday at State Farm Stadium, a nationally televised ESPN game with Patrick Mahomes. The NFL did cut down the preseason from four to three games, but Murray fondly remembers last year – "I loved it" – when the pandemic wiped the preseason games out.
The idea of practicing hard against teammates and when games start they count, echoing how college teams operate, is what the third-year QB prefers.
"(The preseason) is not real," Murray said. "I see it as, you go out and play well – it's not real. You play bad, you have a bad taste in your mouth. But at the end of the day, it's live reps. You take something away from it, but it doesn't count. That's how I feel about it."
Of the 32 teams this past preseason weekend, 17 did not play the quarterback expected to start Week 1 of the regular season. A couple were injury-related, but most were coaching decisions.
"It's always a fine line," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "There is always a risk you take by putting those guys out there. Some teams don't do it, some teams do. I don't know if it is right or wrong, but we try to make the right decisions for this organization and go from there."
For most teams, Kingsbury said, if a starter is in the plays are about handoffs and quick passes so "they can get in, get some good work and get out unscathed."
The question is how good is that work, really.
"I don't like taking days off, and in preseason games, you're only playing a little bit, you're not playing it all," Murray said. "It's a weird flow of things."
Murray acknowledged that preseason games do have a purpose for those players fighting to make a roster. As a competitor, he does work as hard as he can when he is playing – he just doesn't see why it'd be necessary.
And when Murray isn't playing – like against the Cowboys last week – he tries to stay engaged, rooting for teammates for whom preseason games mean a lot.
"I don't take any of this for granted," Murray said.
The Cardinals brought back punter Ryan Winslow Tuesday, claiming him off waivers after he was released by the Packers. Winslow was with the team at times each of the past two seasons. To make room, they released punter Tyler Newsome. …