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Offseason Of Hype Doesn't Faze Kyler Murray

Notes: Isabella the new punt returner; Josh Jones not present at practice

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during training camp in September of 2020.
QB Kyler Murray said he doesn't pay any attention to his placement as a preseason contender to win MVP.

Second-year quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have won the past two NFL MVP awards, which has led to speculation that Kyler Murray could follow in their footsteps in 2020.

It would take a substantial uptick in performance for the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year to get there, but between Murray's No. 1 overall pick pedigree and flashes of brilliance last season, it's not impossible.

While it is fun fodder for the outside world, such high expectations for the youngest starting quarterback in the league could be an issue if Murray bought into the hype before backing it up.

As the season opener against the 49ers approaches on Sunday, that does not seem to be an issue.

"I don't really pay any mind to it," Murray said. "They've got to put somebody in the talk. I've got to go out and play well, and if I play well, I can put myself in that conversation. But as far as people talking and stuff like that, I don't really pay attention to it."

Murray is generally listed among the top-10 favorites to win the MVP, behind Mahomes, Jackson and Russell Wilson and alongside the likes of Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said he isn't concerned about his 23-year-old signal-caller being lumped in with such proven stars.

"His expectations for himself are so lofty and so high," Kingsbury said. "Anything we try to place upon him – or the outside noise tries to put upon him – it just wouldn't faze him. He wants to be an elite-type player. That's his mindset, and that's how he approaches it every single day. I don't see that being a negative for him at all."

Hype is nothing new to Murray. He was a top-10 pick in both the NFL and MLB drafts and is arguably the greatest high school football player in the illustrious history of the state of Texas.

The low-key Murray said he learned long ago to keep tunnel vision.

"I think it was just the way I was raised, the morals and values that were instilled in me," Murray said. "Never too high. Never too low. Always be yourself, play your game, do what you do. And win. Those were kind of the things I was always told. Just win."


Second-year receiver Andy Isabella will enter the season as the top option at kick and punt returner, filling the void that Pharoh Cooper left when he signed with the Panthers in free agency.

Isabella returned five kicks for 105 yards last season with a long of 32, so his insertion there was not a surprise. Christian Kirk has more punt return experience, but Kingsbury felt good about Isabella's ability to take over the role after watching him in practice.

"Andy's done a nice job with that," Kingsbury said. "We feel very comfortable with him back there returning. He has that speed that if he hits a crease, it's over with. His fielding of the punts was phenomenal all camp, so we feel really good about him being back there."


The only Cardinals player to miss Wednesday's practice was rookie Josh Jones. He was listed as the third-string left tackle on the team's initial depth chart, so even when healthy, Jones is not projected to be in line for early playing time.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (not injury-related), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (not injury-related) and tight end Maxx Williams (ankle) were limited.

For the 49ers, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring), wide receiver Deebo Samuel (foot) and cornerback Jason Verrett (hamstring) did not practice. Center Ben Garland (ankle) was limited.


Defensive lineman Michael Dogbe was signed to the practice squad Wednesday after being released from the active roster on Tuesday. The Cardinals now have the maximum 16 players on the practice squad.