While he isn’t quite sure where, Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said on Monday that he does expect quarterback Kyler Murray to begin throwing to teammates this week. The Cardinals, like every other NFL team, have been conducting virtual offseasons with their players due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Cardinals are hoping to open training camp in late July, as the NFL has remain steadfast in not delaying the start of the 2020 regular season.
Kingsbury, who went 5-11 during his first season in Arizona, said that Murray may travel to Minnesota to take part in teammate Larry Fitzgerald’s annual offseason workouts. Kingsbury added that he expects All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was acquired via a trade with the Texans earlier this offseason, to also meet up with Murray later this week. While he hasn’t been able to practice with his new quarterback up until now, Hopkins recently said that he has been in consistent communication with Murray since being traded to Arizona.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Murray was tabbed as last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year after completing 64.4% of his passes for 3,722 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. A Week 1 starter, Murray also rushed for 544 yards and four scores while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Murray was sacked a league-high 48 times last season, something that Kingsbury will surely look to correct heading into Murray’s second season under center.
While he hasn’t been able to work with him in person, Kingsbury said on Monday that he has been impressed by the physical and mental strides Murray has underwent this offseason.
“I can definitely sense the comfort level with Kyler,” Kingsbury said, via Sports Illustrated’s Mason Kern. “We would all love to have been on the grass, getting the hundreds of reps he would have gotten, but just talking through film with him, listening to the way he’s seeing the game now, his understanding of concepts, he’s definitely taken a step in that area. That’s all we could hope for right now.
“The physical stuff is going to be there, he’s working really hard physically, throwing, doing all those things, but just the way he’s seeing the game, the way we’re getting on the same page seeing the game, I know that’s going to continue. The more we can all be on the same page as an offense once we finally get together, that’s just going to try and help us take that next step.”
Along with the addition of Hopkins, the Cardinals were also able to keep running back Kenyan Drake, who signed his transition tag back in March. Drake, who enjoyed a career resurgence after being traded from Miami to Arizona midway through the 2019 season, is hoping to sign a long-term deal with the Cardinals before the start of next season.
In the draft, Arizona spent a third-round pick on Houston’s Josh Jones, one of the top-rated offensive tackles in this year’s draft. The Cardinals used a seventh-round pick on Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin, who rushed for 2,725 yards and 26 touchdowns during his final two seasons in Tempe.
The Cardinals used their other four draft picks adding pieces to a defense that finished 28th in the NFL in points allowed in 2019. With the eighth overall pick, they selected Clemson linebacker/safety Isiah Simmons, who enjoyed a standout performance at the NFL combine. Arizona selected defensive linemen Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence in the fourth round before using their sixth-round pick on former Cal linebacker Evan Weaver.
While he expects Murray and several of his teammates to return to the practice field this week, Kingsbury said that he and his staff will continue to work remotely as opposed to returning to the team’s facility. He said that he is waiting to hear the NFL’s plan before announcing any logistics as it relates to training camp. Kingsbury said that he may receive more clarify from the league office by week’s end.
“I am waiting to hear how that is going to happen,” Kingsbury said, via the team’s official website. “I think the NFL has been smart giving us a couple weeks at a time. So that’s where we are at.”