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As if there hasn’t been enough speculation and guessing over the last nine-plus months regarding the present and future for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, the noise reached a crescendo this week when Murray was listed as a full participant in practice Wednesday and then, inexplicably, had no practice designation Thursday.
That ramped up speculation that Murray might play in Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, with many suggesting a limited package of plays to bring him along slowly.
We’ll deal with that shortly, but it’s important to know that the NFL created new rules this season for the reporting of designations involving players on the reserve lists of injured, physically unable to perform (PUP) or non-football injury/illness (NFI) that have returned to practice.
In the past, those players were not listed at all on the injury reports each week.
In the portions of the five practices open to the media last week and this week, Murray has thrown passes during individual drills only to players on the practice squad. Last week, Murray was limited each day and then listed as out on Friday.
One team source told PHNX they monitor and look closer at what the media reports about those sessions than what is on the injury report.
Wednesday, the Murray hype launched into overdrive after the full designation was distributed when it should have been clear his 100-percent participation was not with the first team. Practicing in his status is different from players on the roster that are on the injury report. Full participation is defined as 100 percent of normal reps.
However, normal reps for a player that hasn’t been on the field for a while is decidedly different than the reps for someone like Murray who hadn’t practiced since the week of the Dec. 12, 2022, game against the Patriots.
Two league sources confirmed to PHNX that full participation for players on reserve “happens in the context of what they are asked to do, as opposed to 100 percent of their normal repetitions.”
Still, it stunned me that a team could simply not have a designation when the player had to have done something … or nothing.
Those new rules, which have not been reported yet by Bill Maher, allow teams to not list a practice designation after Wednesday. It makes no sense that is the case, but that’s the way it is. One league source told PHNX simply that it is “dumb.”
Of course, coach Jonathan Gannon cited gamesmanship prior to Week 1 when he resisted making an official announcement that quarterback Joshua Dobbs would be the starter against the Washington Commanders. Gannon noted that teams always check the injury report for the upcoming opponent, despite understanding there is gamesmanship involved. And the Cardinals took full advantage of that this week.
Ravens reporters asked defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald Thursday about game preparation given the full designation for Murray Wednesday. He said, “Well, you have to be ready for it. You have to be ready for him. Obviously, there’s no reps [on tape] of him this year in this system, so you would try to marry his skill set and what you’ve seen in the past with what they’re trying to do.
“[It’s] not an easy task. We’ll see what happens throughout the rest of the week, but it’s definitely something you have to be ready for if he is out there.”
So, what does Thursday and Friday’s non-listing mean? Probably nothing. It’s likely there were no changes in his practice regimen from Wednesday.
However, those new rules also mandate there has to be a game status designation Friday for Murray unless he is activated from PUP (out, doubtful or questionable), just the same as those on the roster that are on the report. If he is activated, a player would have to go off the roster one day after cornerback Bobby Price was signed from the practice squad and gave the Cardinals their full complement of 53 players.
However, here’s the rub: If there is no activation and the Cardinals don’t list a game status designation Friday, the rules say Murray would not only have to be activated from PUP Saturday, he would have to be active for Sunday’s game.
It turns out he was listed as doubtful Friday (again without a practice designation), but he still could be activated Saturday as unlikely as that might be.
Which brings us to the limited package option. Whenever Murray is activated, Clayton Tune is expected to remain on the roster and then dress as the emergency third quarterback for games. Ah, more new rules.
That emergency quarterback can only play if the other two are injured. Activating Murray for only limited plays at this stage of his recovery would be highly risky. If Dobbs were injured, then Murray would have to play all the subsequent snaps.
So, everyone, please, take a deep breath, tap the brakes a tad and calm down while still knowing that it won’t be too long until Murray is playing in a game again.
Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me: email@example.com. Also, become a DIEHARD and use the promo code HOWARD
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