Kyler Murray was the top overall draft pick in 2019 and finished his first season with 3,722 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Murray excelled on the football field and the baseball diamond in high school and college. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2018 and was an MLB Draft pick.
He ultimately decided to give up his baseball career and focus on football.
After a turbulent 2022 season in which he injured an ACL and the Cardinals won four games, Murray is under considerable pressure to turn things around in 2023. But the 25-year-old quarterback will first have to get healthy.
As he continues to rehab his injured knee, Murray said he is only in competition with himself.
“This is different,” Murray said. “This is you on you. Nobody really knows what you’re going through except for yourself and whoever you’re working out with.”
The two-time Pro Bowler acknowledged he went through some tough times in the days after the surgery to repair his torn ACL, saying the pain prevented him from sleeping some nights.
But he said he’s not feeling sorry for himself as he works to get back to the field.
“I get to do what I love every day — play quarterback in the NFL,” Murray said. “Did I get hurt? Yeah. Did I experience something no one wants to experience? Yeah. But it’s nothing for me to get up and work out. I was already doing that before I got hurt.”
Murray will likely be on the sidelines for the first few games of the upcoming season while he continues to recover. He wore an Arizona Cardinals sweatshirt and a long black sleeve over his right leg during Saturday’s training camp session inside State Farm Stadium.
It remains unclear when the signal-caller will be healthy enough to resume football activities, and he did not commit to a specific return date Saturday.
“I don’t have a timetable,” Murray said.
Murray said he saw Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow at a recent UFC event, and the two discussed the perils of an ACL injury. Burrow tore the ACL in his left knee during his rookie season in 2020 but returned to play 16 games in 2021.
“I wouldn’t want to go out there and hurt the team or hurt myself,” Murray said. “The advice that I’ve gotten from a lot of people around me is to go when you’re ready. Don’t listen to outside noise. Don’t feel pressure to come back because of this situation or that situation.
“Whenever you’re ready, you’ll know you’re ready.”
The apex of Murray’s pro career came in 2021, when the Cardinals started the season with a 10-2 record and looked like a Super Bowl favorite. But the franchise collapsed, losing four of its next five games before being blown out against the Los Angeles Rams in an embarrassing playoff performance.
With high hopes in 2022, the Cardinals were one of the league’s most disappointing teams, finishing with a 4-13 record. Murray was far from the only reason for those struggles but also wasn’t blameless. His performance regressed in several areas.
“It’s not a bad thing to sit back, watch and try to make this a positive deal,” Murray said. “I feel good. Getting better each and every day, taking one day at a time. Just trying to be there for my teammates and learn as much as possible before I do stuff on the field.”
Murray appeared to be unhappy with his contract last year and wiped his social media page of all Cardinals-related references.
The team eventually awarded him with a massive five-year contract in July 2022. Murray’s work ethic became a topic of conversation shortly after the contract was announced because the team placed an “independent study” clause in the deal.
The Cardinals eventually removed the clause from the $230.5 million extension after the controversial stipulation prompted Murray to call criticism of his work ethic “disrespectful.”
Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill made big changes after last season’s debacle, hiring general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon to lead the football operations department.
“It’s been great so far,” Murray said. “We’re actually establishing a run game. I believe we’ll be able to run the ball a lot better, which will only be a weapon for us. Get under center, mix it up, not be as predictable.”
Veteran Colt McCoy is the Cardinals’ most likely quarterback while Murray continues to recover. The 36-year-old has been the team’s backup the past two seasons and has a 3-3 record in the six games he’s started.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.