He may not have been in uniform Friday night but an Arizona Cardinals quarterback was Kyler Murray could still use what he did in practice in the weeks before the first preseason match of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Murray helped call offensive plays during the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ 36-23 win over the Bengals along with co-pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Cam Turner. Murray was on a headset broadcasting plays to a quarterback Jarrett Guarantanowho played the entire second half.
Murray was in charge for two actual series and then the two kneeling plays to close the game, which coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the game was not Murray’s preferred choice of plays. Arizona went three-and-out on both of Murray’s series — the “last thing I envisioned,” Kingsbury said — running three pass plays and two run plays.
Guarantano was sacked on a play, too. The Cardinals gained 15 yards in total in those games.
“He called some really nice plays,” Kingsbury said. “It just didn’t work. Had some guys open. He does a good job with it. I was impressed.”
Kingsbury didn’t give Murray any parameters Friday night. However, Murray wanted to throw the ball when Arizona got it back with 1:14 left in the game, but Kingsbury put the kibosh on that.
“That wouldn’t happen,” Kingsbury scoffed.
Kingsbury took off his headset during the fourth quarter, not wanting to add more pressure to Murray. Delegating responsibility like play calling was somewhat reassuring for Kingsbury.
“I liked it,” he said. “I think that executive head coaching role suits me. I might just figure it out one of these days. I could sleep a lot longer.
“Yeah, it’s fun just being able to look at the overall macro perspective and take it all in and not always be so consumed with play calls and things of that nature.”
Murray, who hasn’t practiced since Aug. 5 because of a sore wrist and then COVID-19, called plays during practice. He started calling them with a handheld microphone and graduated to the headset. Kingsbury didn’t want to make Murray call more plays during the offseason, saying, “we’ll see,” but he wants to keep the quarterback involved somehow.
Earlier in the game, Murray found a different way to be involved. He was seen on cameras handing out water to teammates on the sideline. Whatever the role was on Friday night, Murray embraced it.
“He did a nice job,” Kingsbury said. “He likes to do it, gets excited when good things happen and he’s a tough coach when bad things happen.”
ESPN’s Ben Baby contributed to this story.