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Pocket Watch: Kyler Murray Happy To Be Traditional Passer

Notes: Budda Baker undergoes thumb surgery; COVID-19 protocol reminder

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray looks downfield during a regular season game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, September 27, 2020.
QB Kyler Murray is fine operating from the pocket if that's the more optimal setup offensively.

The Lions' defensive formula worked on Sunday.

After two weeks of dazzling rushing displays, Kyler Murray was held in check on the ground – five carries for 29 yards and a touchdown -- and threw three interceptions.

In a copycat league, teams may choose to enact a similar plan in upcoming weeks to bottle up the second-year quarterback and force him to throw from the pocket. If that happens, Murray will gladly accept the scenario.

"I'd rather sit in the pocket, honestly, and not have to get out and do those (scrambling) deals," Murray said. "If the opportunity presents itself, I have the capability to do that outside the pocket. But, yeah, I'm more than capable of just sitting in there and operating from the pocket."

Murray threw a pair of interceptions from the pocket against Detroit and nearly had a third, but his on-schedule throwing this season has otherwise been solid. According to Pro Football Focus, Murray has the 11th-best passing grade in the NFL this year in rhythm, and is averaging 8.4 yards per attempt.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury isn't convinced teams will try to hem Murray in the pocket after seeing the Lions' success, but is fine with the passing attack operating either way.

"I'm not sure how it's going to go," Kingsbury said. "I think it's still early in the season. I think this first month, a lot of teams are still figuring out who they are and what they do best, and we're in that same boat. But I have all the confidence in the world that Kyler can throw from anywhere, whether it's in the pocket or outside the pocket if he's got to move around. He's a very talented passer."

Panthers coach Matt Rhule believes Murray can put a defense in a bind whichever way it decides to play him. He certainly knows from experience, as Murray was 17-of-21 passing for 432 yards and six touchdowns for Oklahoma when it routed Rhule's Baylor team in 2018.

"If you don't rush him properly, he's going to tear you apart," Rhule said. "If you rush him (too aggressively), he can take off and run and make you pay. And at the same time he has the ability to run some quarterback runs. On every defensive play, you're having to make sure you're sound. He challenges you."

Murray's turnovers against Detroit certainly had a huge impact on the outcome, but the Cardinals were not particularly stymied offensively. They didn't punt until the fourth quarter.

"I don't think we played bad," Murray said. "The interceptions and the turnovers kind of put us in a hole, especially giving them good field position. Despite those, I felt like we moved the ball well."

BUDDA BAKER HAS THUMB SURGERY

Safety Budda Baker didn't practice on Wednesday after recently undergoing surgery on the thumb he injured in Week 2 against Washington.

Kingsbury told 98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station on Monday the hope was for Baker to only miss Sunday’s game against the Panthers, but on Wednesday Kingsbury didn't completely rule out his Pro Bowl defensive back from playing in Week 4.

"I don't want to put any timetable on it just yet knowing Budda and the type of superhuman he is," Kingsbury said. "You never know. But everything went well, so we're excited about that."

Fellow starting safety Jalen Thompson (ankle) won't play because he is on injured reserve, but was working on the side during the open portion of practice on Wednesday. He is eligible to return in Week 5 against the Jets.

Safety Chris Banjo, who was filling in for Thompson but left the game against Detroit with a hamstring injury, did not practice on Wednesday, and neither did wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) nor outside linebacker Devon Kennard (calf). Defensive tackle Corey Peters and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald were given maintenance days.

Wide receiver Christian Kirk (groin) was back practicing in a limited capacity after missing the Lions game, while center Mason Cole (hamstring) was also limited after sitting the past two contests. Others limited were linebacker Dennis Gardeck (foot) and defensive end Zach Allen (knee).

For the Panthers, defensive tackle Derrick Brown (not injury-related), tackle Russell Okung (groin) and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (illness) did not practice. Those limited were safety Jeremy Chinn (hip), guard Dennis Daley (ankle), cornerback Donte Jackson (toe), defensive tackle Kawann Short (foot) and linebacker Adarius Taylor (hip).

Carolina star running back Christian McCaffrey is on injured reserve with an ankle injury and won't play against the Cardinals.

TITANS' CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK A REMINDER TO CARDINALS

The NFL postponed the game between the Titans and Steelers after Tennessee reportedly had four players and five team members test positive for COVID-19.

The Titans are not expected to return to their facility until Saturday and the game may be pushed from Sunday to Monday or Tuesday. Kingsbury brought up the situation during a team meeting on Tuesday and said it's a good reminder to follow the protocols closely.

"We've got to stay vigilant," Kingsbury said. "This is an every day deal. We cannot become lax at any point because the consequences can be pretty dire when you're talking about canceling games, or not being able to practice, not being able to come to the facility. We have to stay on top of it."

Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the Week 3 matchup against the Lions.

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