Kyler Murray’s return from a serious knee injury appears imminent.
It could come next Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. But even if he’s not ready, the Arizona Cardinals are making a change at quarterback.
First-year coach Jonathan Gannon said Monday that either Murray or rookie Clayton Tune would start Sunday’s game against the Browns after fill-in quarterback Joshua Dobbs had another disappointing outing.
The Cardinals (1-7) dropped their fifth straight game Sunday, falling to the Baltimore Ravens in 31-24 after scoring 10 points in the final few minutes to make the final margin more respectable. Dobbs threw two interceptions in the middle of the game that the Ravens turned into 14 points and the Cardinals were never able to completely recover.
Gannon didn’t point fingers Sunday after the team’s latest loss, but on Monday said he’s making a change under center.
“Talked to all the quarterbacks this morning – we’re going to keep ramping up Kyler and see how he progresses through the week,” Gannon said. “And if it’s not Kyler, it’s going to be Clayton Tune.”
Murray was designated to return from the physically unable to perform list on Oct. 18 – which allowed him to return to practice. The Cardinals have 21 days from that Oct. 18 date to activate Murray to the active roster. That means he could return for next week’s game against the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 5 or against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 12.
Murray was a full participant in practice last week, though the Cardinals have kept a patient approach.
Murray should have some good help around him when he returns. Rookie running back Emari Demercado continues to play well, rushing for 78 yards against the Ravens. Second-year tight end Trey McBride also continued his emergence with 10 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. Rookie receiver Michael Wilson also had four catches for 58 yards.
“We’re in every game, we’re so close to winning and I think with the fight, the toughness, and the resilience that our team is showing, we’re not that far off,” McBride said. “It’s very encouraging to see the fight that we have, it’s not like we’re getting blown out or giving up, we’re fighting until the very end.”
Tune is a fifth-round pick out of Houston who had some good moments during preseason. He completed one pass for 4 yards in the team’s loss to the Seahawks on Oct. 22.
Arizona’s defense actually had a pretty good day, limiting the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens to just 268 total yards and 4.5 yards per play. The Cardinals are much more healthy in the secondary now that Antonio Hamilton, Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson have returned in the past few weeks, which gives them a much better chances at slowing opposing offenses.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Cardinals now rank just 28th in the NFL in passing yards per game, tumbling toward the bottom of the pack during the five-game losing streak. Dobbs continues to work hard and Gannon has praised the quarterback’s attitude, but it’s hard to see this number improving much until Murray returns.
Demercado. The rookie has run for 136 yards over the past two games, taking advantage of his opportunity once starter James Conner went on injured reserve with a knee injury. The 24-year-old is likely a depth piece when Conner is healthy, but the Cardinals have been encouraged by his development.
“He’s playing good ball,” Gannon said. “He’s playing really good ball right now. Stepped in. His carries have been going up. He had some production in there. He’s playing well.
Dobbs. The 28-year-old finally received an extended chance to lead an NFL team after seven years in the league and the returns have been mixed. He got off to a great start during the first three weeks, but the interceptions and fumbles have piled up in recent games. He now has a 1-9 career record as a starter – albeit in less-than-ideal circumstances – counting the two games he played with the Titans last season.
OL Trystan Colon (knee) left early in the game and didn’t return.
No. 1 – If there’s one silver lining to the Cardinals’ struggles, it’s that they’re in line to have the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. The Cardinals have stockpiled draft picks for 2024 and will be hunting for playmakers at multiple positions.
The Cardinals go on the road to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
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