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No Kyler Murray Return Timetable: 'When That Time Comes, I'll Know'

Quarterback says he is 'getting closer to football' in ACL rehab

Quarterback Kyler Murray walks out to watch practice Saturday after finishing his rehab for the day.
Quarterback Kyler Murray walks out to watch practice Saturday after finishing his rehab for the day.

Kyler Murray attended a UFC event this offseason in Miami, and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow happened to be there.

The two talked – like Murray last season, Burrow had torn his ACL in 2020 – and Burrow noted to Murray that one of his major hurdles to recovery was being hesitant in the pocket.

"That's something every athlete (does)," Murray said Saturday, in his first press conference since December's injury. "You're a little scared to run the first time you pull a (hamstring). But with reps, with everything, confidence comes. Even in the weight room, the first time I do things, I'm hesitant. The first time I jumped, I was hesitant.

"But we are preparing the body, preparing the mind to be able to do those things. I do think the first time I'm out there, maybe I might be (hesitant), but with the reps the confidence will grow."

When Murray might have a chance to test that theory remains a mystery. Like he emphasized earlier in the offseason, he wasn't giving any hints on when he thinks he might be able to return from what was both an ACL and meniscus repair in his right knee. He is on the Physically Unable to Perform list right now, and if he remains there into the regular season he would have to miss a minimum of four games.

If Murray does have an idea when he could come back, he did a good job sounding like it was unknown to him as well. He did say he is ramping up the work, doing some cutting on the knee and "getting closer to football."

But working on football moves and actually playing football are different things entirely.

"I wouldn't want to go out there and hurt the team or hurt myself," Murray said. "The advice I've gotten from a lot of people around me is, obviously, to go when you are ready. Don't feel pressured to come back because of this situation or that situation. I feel when that time comes, I'll know."

Coach Jonathan Gannon said he likes the plan Murray has been on, which includes working as a quarterback as much has he can without actually being on the field. He's been in all the meetings, and is confident in his grasp of the playbook and being able to call plays.

Quarterback Kyler Murray (left) watches Saturday's practice next to coach Jonathan Gannon.
Quarterback Kyler Murray (left) watches Saturday's practice next to coach Jonathan Gannon.

"If I wasn't taking the reps mentally and spitting it out at home in the mirror, to the coaches, in meetings, yeah, I'd probably be behind," Murray said. "But the fact we are on it and constantly doing it, it's been easy."

For Murray, it's been an interesting place to live in his athletic career. His confidence has always been considerable – "I already didn't give a (expletive) what other people thought about me or said about me" – but this is different. It isn't opinionated criticism. This is an injury that wiped him out, and he knows few can really know what he is going through.

He leaned on Buddy Morris, who has been a strength coach since Murray arrived. He's also rehabbed a lot with tight end Zach Ertz, himself coming back from an ACL tear.

"I told him the other day our chemistry when we get back on the field together is going to be remarkable," Ertz said. "I'm not surprised (at Kyler's progress). I think everyone has a chip on their shoulder from last year and then when you are hurt, it counts us out as well. We both have chips on our shoulders."

The process to come back hasn't been simple, but Murray also said it hasn't really been a challenge for him either. His reasoning for that is simple – it is in many ways no different than before.

"I get to do what I love every day, play quarterback in the NFL," Murray said. "Did I get hurt? Yeah. Did I experience something no one wants to experience? Yeah. But it's nothing for me to get up and work out every day. I was already doing that before I got hurt.

"Now it's to get back to who I was and be able to play at a higher level."