Kyler Murray has brief, near-perfect debut in Cardinals preseason opener

Jason Owens
·3 min read

Kyler Murray’s preseason debut for the Arizona Cardinals didn’t last long.

But he looked good in his lone drive, showing off the athleticism, arm strength and decision making that made him the No. 1 pick in the April’s draft.

Murray starts from his own end zone

Murray started his first drive backed up at the Arizona 2-yard line after the Cardinals recovered a fumble from Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler.

He finished completing 6-of-7 passes for 44 yards before a sack near midfield ended the drive and his night.

Murray’s first completion came on second-and-9 after a one-yard run from David Johnson on first down bought a little room to operate. He hit Damiere Byrd on a six-yard out to set up a short third down, which he converted with a short pass to tight end Trent Sherfield.

From there, he completed a series of methodical passes to advance the ball while showing poise when pressured by the Chargers pass rush.

“I thought it was smooth,” Murray told reporters of his debut. “I was anxious to get out there, move around and throw a little bit.”

Kyler Murray's NFL debut was brief, but he showed off the athleticism and decision making that made him the No. 1 pick. (Getty)
Kyler Murray's NFL debut was brief, but he showed off the athleticism and decision making that made him the No. 1 pick. (Getty)

RPO connection with Larry Fitzgerald

He even showed off his run-pass-option skills, making a late decision after holding on to the ball to make his first connection with Larry Fitzgerald. The pass only gained one yard, but it gave a glimpse of what tricks might be in store from head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona offense.

Murray’s best play called back for penalty

His best play of the drive didn’t even count. On second-and-9 at the Cardinals 40-yard line, Chargers defensive end Chris Pearce broke free on a pass rush, forcing Murray to scramble out of the pocket almost immediately after the snap.

Murray avoided a sack, outrunning a pair of Chargers defenders to find a wide open KeeSean Johnson on the sideline to set up what appeared to be a third-and-short situation.

But Johnson, a fellow rookie, had stepped out of bounds before the pass arrived and was flagged for illegal touching. By ruled, that pass was deemed his only incompletion on the night.

Offensive line may be a problem

The play set up Arizona with third-and-9, which was a green light for an all-out blitz from the Chargers. Blitz they did, sacking Murray before he had a chance to make a decision in what could be an ominous sign from an offensive line that struggled mightily last season.

But overall, it was a solid debut from Murray. He made good decisions and good throws and looked very much like the professional the Cardinals expected when they made such a significant investment in the draft.

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