TEMPE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown first discussed becoming NFL teammates during the 2019 draft process.
They had been college teammates at Oklahoma for two years before entering the draft. Murray was the No. 1 overall pick that year, taken by Arizona, and Brown went to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round at No. 25. Just three years later, the quarterback and wide receiver have reunited in Arizona after the Ravens traded Brown in April.
It’s not taking long for the two to reestablish the connection they displayed with the Sooners.
“It’s going to be a good relationship there. The way they work out together throughout the offseason, there’s already that bond,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said this week. “I think once we get to training camp and Hollywood gets comfortable in our system and isn’t thinking as much, I think it’s really going to take off. But they definitely, you can tell, have a connection.”
After spending the first three seasons of his career in Baltimore, the former Ravens wideout requested a trade, and he believes Arizona is a better offense for his skill-set. The Ravens have a run-oriented offense, while Arizona employs more of a spread "Air Raid" scheme.
“I feel like I can definitely help the team in the role that I’m asked to do here. I helped the Ravens as well, but it’s really about what’s the philosophy of the team,” Brown said. “Just the attack mentality. We are trying to put points up, and that’s what I love.”
Kingsbury and the Cardinals are hopeful Murray and Brown will be teammates for the foreseeable future. Arizona granted fifth-year options for both this offseason; their current deals run through the 2023 season. The Cardinals are optimistic a lucrative long-term extension will get finalized with Murray soon. Kingsbury said this week he’s “praying” a deal with Murray will be completed before training camp in July.
“He’s the leader of this franchise,” Kingsbury said. “We are about to make him I’m sure the highest-paid player in franchise history.”
Similarly, the team views Brown as a key player.
“Yeah, we’d love to get it done,” Kingsbury said when asked by USA TODAY Sports whether the Cardinals want to sign Brown to an extension. “Hollywood is a guy that we see as a long-term answer.”
The speedy wideout is expected to be the team’s No. 1 receiving option while star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins serves his six-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
“He works really hard. I know his name is Hollywood, so you think he’d be chilling, but he works really hard. He’s a great practice player. Anything you ask him to do he’s going full-speed,” Kingsbury said. “He has a quick twitch, he’s dynamic, he can really run, and for a smaller guy, he can really track the ball well down the field and make plays.”
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Brown caught several passes from Murray during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 in minicamp this week. The two looked like they hadn't missed a beat from their college days. A few years later, and farther west, they are beginning to rekindle their connection on the field.
“We talked about it since we went into the draft process together. For it to actually happen, it’s exciting,” Brown said. “We’re here now. It’s time to work.”
While Brown is making a rather seamless transition in the Cardinals’ offense, there is one thing he hasn’t gotten used to: different animal species living in the desert.
“I love it,” Brown said when asked how he likes being an Arizona resident. “It got some different animals out here. There was a rattlesnake in my garage the other day. I have to get used to that.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hollywood Brown, Kyler Murray rekindle college connection on field