MINNEAPOLIS — Next up for Kyler Murray: Week 1.
Murray played almost two full quarters — 35 snaps in all — in the Cardinals’ 20-9 loss at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday, and even though he didn’t lead Arizona on a touchdown drive, he left the game feeling as comfortable as he’s been in the preseason, in large part to the increased amount of live reps.
“Knowing we’re not playing next week [against Denver in the fourth preseason game], nobody wants to come out here today and kind of lay an egg,” Murray said after the game. “We didn’t put the ball in the end zone but we sustained drives this week and I think we were more consistent and I think everybody felt better about how we played.”
Murray finished 14-for-21 passing for 137 yards and had four carries for 9 yards. Murray was “kind of happy” with his and the offense’s day. Having a productive showing was important for the offense’s psyche, Murray said.
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury felt Murray “handled himself fairly well” against Minnesota, adding that the offense started faster, was more physical and looked crisper.
“I thought he made good decisions, whether it’s to take off or move and get out of the pocket, make quick decisions,” Kingsbury said. “Had some things we’d like to have back, but it’s all about progress. Each week, we wanted to get better, and this was playing against a very good defense that showed multiple looks.”
After Saturday, Murray is as ready as he’ll be for the regular season, Kingsbury said.
“As a rookie quarterback in the NFL, I don’t know how ready you can be,” Kingsbury said. “You’ll never be completely ready, I don’t think, when it’s your first game in the NFL, but he feels like he’s in a good place talking to him. We’ve tried to push as many reps as possible. And Week 1’s going to be a new experience for he and myself. So, we’ll grow together and learn from it and see where it goes.”
The first-team offense did not use a clap to call for the snap like it had in the first two preseason games, both at home, opting instead to use a silent count, Murray said.
Instead of clapping, he lifted his foot to call for the ball.
However, when backup quarterback Brett Hundley took over for Murray with 2:24 left in the second quarter, he was quickly whistled for two false starts after clapping and then picking up his leg.
After the game, Hundley said the general feeling is that he can’t clap at all to call for the snap.
“We can’t fake clap, we can’t clap, we can’t bring our hand outside, and that’s how we clap in the first place,” he said. “I have no idea right now.”
Referee Walt Anderson, who worked with Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech when he was the Big 12’s director of officiating, told a pool reporter after the game that Hundley’s movements were “too abrupt” and “end up simulating the start of the play.”
“What we always look for are motions or actions that simulate the start of the play and I just felt like those two actions by the quarterback did just that — they simulated the start of the play and the ball wasn’t snapped, so we had a false start,” Anderson said.
Kingsbury said he didn’t seek an explanation about Hundley’s penalties.
“We’ll work through multiple cadences and do different things,” he said. “And so it’s kind of where we’re at on it.”
While the Cardinals continue to work out the issues with their snap, much of what they’ll do offensively Week 1 against the Detroit Lions remained under lock and key in Minnesota.
Kingsbury wouldn’t reveal what percentage of the offense ran Saturday was the Cardinals’ regular-season offense.
“I don’t want to get into specifics of what our offense will look like, but I think we were a little more game-plan specific this week,” Kingsbury said. “We had installations, things of that nature. I felt like the sense of urgency to start the game was much improved from a week ago because of that.”