He may not have been in uniform on Friday night but Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was still able to put to use what he did in practice in the weeks leading up to the first preseason game 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 alongside co-pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Cam Turner. Murray was on a headset relaying plays to quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who played the entire second half.
Murray was in charge for two actual series and then the two kneel-down plays to close the game, which coach Kliff Kingsbury said after the game weren’t Murray’s preferred choice of plays. Arizona went three-and-out on both of Murray’s series — the “last thing I anticipated,” Kingsbury said — running three pass plays and two run plays.
Guarantano was sacked on a play, as well. The Cardinals gained 15 yards in total on those plays.
“He called a couple of really nice plays,” Kingsbury said. “It just didn’t work out. Had some guys open. He does a good job with it. I’ve been impressed.”
Kingsbury didn’t give Murray any parameters on 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 wasn’t going to happen,” Kingsbury panned.
Kingsbury took his headset off during the fourth quarter, not wanting to add any more pressure to Murray. Delegating a responsibility such as play calling was a bit of a relief for Kingsbury.
“I liked it,” he said. “I think that administrative head coach role kind of fits me. I may just figure that out one of these days. I’d be able to sleep in a lot longer. “Yeah, it’s fun just to be able to watch 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, has called plays during practice. He started calling them through a handheld mic and graduated to the headset. Kingsbury didn’t want to commit to Murray calling more plays throughout the offseason, saying, “we’ll see,” but he wants to keep the quarterback involved in some way.
Earlier in the game, Murray found a different way to be involved. He was seen by cameras handing out water to teammates on the sideline. Whatever the role Friday night, Murray was embracing it.
“He’s done a nice job,” Kingsbury said. “He likes doing 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.