The Anticipated Return of Kyler Murray: How the Cardinals Are Carefully Preparing Their Star Quarterback for His 2023 Debut

Kyler Murray has officially returned to practice for the Arizona Cardinals as they methodically ramp him up for his highly anticipated 2023 debut, nearly a year after he tore the ACL in his right knee on December 12, 2022.

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Coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing are keeping the specifics of Murray’s practice regimen tightly under wraps, but he has already begun taking reps with the starting offense and leading the first-team huddle once again.

«It’s really exciting for me to see him out there moving around and looking like his normal self, – said left tackle D.J. Humphries. – When he came into the huddle the first time, I had to keep my cool because he was trying to stay calm but I was pumped to have my guy back out there».

On the way

The Cardinals activated Murray from the physically unable to perform list this past Wednesday, starting the 21-day clock for him to be added to the active 53-man roster. In practice, he has been getting a heavy workload throwing routes to two separate three-receiver groups. While current starter Joshua Dobbs and backup Clayton Tune rotate reps during individual drills, Murray has been working solo, throwing both from shotgun and under center. He has also been running the first-team offense during slower tempo walk-through sessions.

Over the next few weeks, the top priority is getting Dobbs fully prepared to start while also gradually providing Murray the reps he needs to shake off rust and get re-acclimated to live action. Even though he has been present at every meeting and classroom session this year learning the new offense and terminology, there will undoubtedly be an adjustment period to translate that knowledge onto the field. The Cardinals aim to give him as much hands-on work as possible, whether during regular practice windows or bonus time built in on off days.

After just a couple practices with Murray back in action, his teammates have been encouraged by how sharp he looks already. «He looks like he could play right now, – said second-year tight end Trey McBride. – He doesn’t seem like he’s missing a step or has any hitch. I think he looks great». Humphries agreed, saying Murray is moving around like his old self and showing no lingering effects.

Previous experience

To assist Murray’s preparation, Petzing will draw from his experience last season with the Cleveland Browns ramping up quarterback Deshaun Watson following his 11-game suspension. Petzing had nearly three weeks of practices to get Watson ready for his debut, a timeline fairly similar to Murray’s path back. Gannon called Murray’s plan «adaptablee» and flexible based on how he progresses. Just last week, Gannon emphasized they won’t take a rigid approach to Murray’s 21-day window before activating him.

«There are all kinds of scenarios where he can play quicker, but it also might take a little longer. That’s okay. We’ll evaluate it daily». – explained Gannon.

Whenever Murray is deemed ready for live action, the Cardinals will be eager to unleash their dynamic quarterback and inject new life into their offense for a late-season playoff push. After sorely missing his rare improvisational skills and speed last season, the unit has looked mostly stagnant without Murray’s dynamism. His return should open up downfield opportunities and put more pressure on defenses forced to account for his dual-threat abilities.

Of course, the team will need to be smart easing Murray back to full speed after such a long recovery. It’s probable he will be kept on a strict snap count initially whenever he does retake the field, slowly ramping up his workload as he shakes off rust and regains trust in his rebuilt knee. But simply having #1 back in action again will provide an instant morale boost.

«It’s been a long journey for him fighting through the rehab and there’s definitely excitement having him out there practicing again with the guys. When he’s 100% ready, we look forward to unleashing his special talent», – said Gannon.

For now, Murray will continue his meticulous preparation behind the scenes, sharpening his throws and mechanics while absorbing the new offensive system. His teammates can’t wait to reconnect the lightning rod back into the offense and see his otherworldly skillset on full display once again. Whenever Kyler Murray is finally deemed game-ready, his return will inject much-needed voltage for an Arizona team hoping their star quarterback can power them back into playoff contention.

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