It was on the outside stage at Music Metropolis’s First and Broadway that Murray was chosen No. 1 general within the 2019 NFL Draft. Almost 2 1/2 years later, he returns to town the place that life-changing second happened because the Cardinals open the 2021 season on the highway in opposition to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, September 12.
“It was an ideal evening,” Murray told reporters on Wednesday, September 8, “nevertheless it undoubtedly looks as if a very long time in the past.”
Since that April 2019 evening, Murray has continued to gather NFL honors. He was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 after throwing for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns, in addition to speeding for 544 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 4 TDs.
He was solely the second participant in NFL historical past to throw for greater than 3,500 yards and rush for not less than 500 yards of their rookie season. The one different participant to do it was former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Murray adopted that up final season along with his first Pro Bowl selection after throwing for 3,971 yards and 26 touchdowns, together with 819 yards (6.2 yards per carry) and 11 TDs on the bottom. He’s the primary participant in NFL historical past to throw for greater than 7,500 yards and rating not less than 45 passing and 15 speeding touchdowns of their first two seasons.
Arizona’s win whole has improved every season since making the speedy 5-foot-10, 207-pound quarterback from Oklahoma the highest decide within the draft, however the Murray-led Cardinals have but to make the playoffs. It’s a pure subsequent step for Murray, however not one the 24-year-old quarterback is specializing in.
“We take it someday at a time, one sport at a time,” he stated. “If we do this, I’ll suppose we’ll find yourself the place we need to be. I’m not too fearful in regards to the playoffs.”
GM Touts Murray as MVP Candidate
Cardinals basic supervisor Steve Keim says he expects Murray to proceed his ascension in his third NFL season, predicting the quarterback can be within the MVP dialog in 2021.
“Swiftly, I feel the man goes to be a candidate for MVP of the Nationwide Soccer League,” Keim told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s “Burns and Gambo” on Friday, September 10. “He’s a man that I see has continued to make development.”
Coach Kliff Kingsbury, who like Murray begins his third season with the Cardinals, stated he’s assured his quarterback can be even higher in 2021 than he was a 12 months in the past.
“I anticipate him to play at a excessive degree,” Kingsbury told reporters Wednesday, September 8. “I believed final 12 months he took a giant step, and I anticipate him to take one other large one this season.”
The Cardinals made some vital strikes in the course of the offseason to encompass Murray with extra expertise, signing seven-time Professional Bowl receiver A.J. Green to a one-year deal in free company, and buying and selling a third-round decide within the 2021 NFL Draft for three-time Professional Bowl middle Rodney Hudson. Arizona additionally obtained a seventh-round decide from the Las Vegas Raiders within the deal.
Inexperienced, 33, offers Murray one other dependable goal within the passing sport, making it extra dangerous for groups to double-team star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. In Hopkins’ first season in Arizona, the five-time Professional Bowl choice ranked second within the NFL in receptions (115) and third in receiving yards (1,407) in 2020.
At 6-foot-4, Inexperienced is “in all probability, in my profession, the tallest receiver I’ve ever performed with — highschool, faculty or the NFL,” Murray stated, including that he’s been impressed with the previous Cincinnati Bengals receiver in coaching camp and observe.
“(Inexperienced) is who he’s for a motive, and he’s completed what he’s completed in his profession for a motive,” he stated. “Now to have the ability to play with him, hopefully I can proceed his success.”
An ‘Absolute Animal’ within the Center
Keim stated Hudson additionally can be key to Murray’s success this season. The Cardinals struggled with defensive strain up the center in 2020, and the 6-foot-2, 315-pound middle was introduced in to plug that gap.
“Solidifying that center of our offensive line, to me, was going to be one of many prime targets this offseason,” Keim stated. “And to have the ability to purchase a man like Rodney Hudson, I can’t let you know how necessary it was. It’s going to pay large dividends for this soccer workforce on the finish of the 12 months.”
Hudson, 32, began all 92 video games at middle in his six seasons with the Raiders from 2015-20. He started his NFL profession in Kansas Metropolis in 2011 and began 127 of the 143 video games he performed in 4 seasons with the Chiefs.
“If you get to know Rodney, he’s obtained type of a low-key persona,” Keim stated. “However make no mistake, this man is an absolute animal on the sphere.”
Hudson continues to carry out as one the highest facilities within the league, with Professional Soccer Focus rating him eighth as he enters his eleventh NFL season. Keim praised Hudson for his “extraordinarily excessive soccer IQ” and his potential to speak with the quarterback previous to the snap about what he’s seeing from defenses.
“Rodney’s seen all of it and isn’t mistaken,” he stated.
With the offseason additions of Inexperienced and Hudson, together with the emergence of second-round draft pick Rondale Moore, Murray stated he believes the Cardinals have “all of the items” to be nice on offense in 2021.
“As lengthy we don’t shoot ourselves within the foot, be constant each week, earn it all through the week and put it on the market on Sunday, I feel the sky’s the restrict,” he stated.
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