TEMPE, Ariz. — Kyler Murray’s long-awaited NFL debut finally arrived Friday afternoon when he took the field for the first day of the Arizona Cardinals‘ rookie minicamp. But Murray didn’t have the right cleats.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner limped to the podium for his post-practice news conference after practicing in cleats that weren’t broken in. The cleats Murray wanted had not been delivered to the Cardinals’ practice facility by the time he took the field.
“My feet hurt a little bit,” Murray said. “It’s been a long time since I put cleats on. I’ve been running around. The cleats were pretty new.”
Coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t concerned about his prized rookie’s feet and said the team will try to get the right cleats delivered by Saturday’s practice. Other than his feet being sore, Murray said he felt “pretty good” after taking the field for a practice for the first time since preparing for the Orange Bowl in December.
“It was good finally touching the field again,” Murray said. “A lot of this process has been just a lot of talk and evaluation and stuff like that. Just to actually be able to play football again, get out here with the guys and do what you love, it was fun.”
Friday was a long time coming for both Kingsbury and Murray. Kingsbury recruited Murray as a sophomore in high school when Murray was 15. Seven years later, Kingsbury finally had a chance to coach the quarterback he’s long coveted.
But Kingsbury was tempered in his initial evaluation of Murray’s first practice, describing the rookie’s performance as “not bad.”
“It was fun,” Kingsbury said. “We have a good relationship and he knows I’m going to do everything in my power to help him be the best player he can be. That’s what he wants. He wants to be pushed.”
Murray felt the connection on the field after just one practice. Kingsbury spent most of the practice with Murray “trying to get him comfortable.” And it worked. Murray said he was “surprisingly comfortable” with the offense and the on-field communication.
“It was great,” Murray said. “Obviously, it’s only been Day 1, but I can already feel the rhythm going. Hopefully we can keep this thing going and do something good, do something great.”
Murray’s familiarity with Kingsbury’s Air Raid system, which Murray ran pieces of at Oklahoma, helped him adjust quickly Friday, Kingsbury said.
“He can really throw it,” Kingsbury said. “He’s got a presence about himself. I liked how he operated.”
Murray self-evaluated his practice with two words: “All right.” But, the rookie pointed out, one practice wasn’t enough to develop a familiarity with his receivers.
“It was a good day overall,” Murray said. “But it’s Day 1. You’re not comfortable with everybody’s routes. You don’t know how they run certain stuff and stuff like that. With time, that’ll obviously get better. We’ll mesh up better. I thought it was a good first day.”
Murray took the field a day after signing his rookie contract, a standard four-year deal with a fifth-year team option worth $35 million that includes a signing bonus worth roughly $23.5 million.
“It was a great feeling,” Murray said. “For me, it was just kind of like another day. You get drafted and you already feel like you have it but you don’t. And then you sign and you still don’t have it. It’s obviously a great day for me and my family and a start of something special.”