Kyler Murray’s career is off to a sizzling start, while Trevor Lawrence is going through some first-year growing pains.
Two of the last three top picks in the NFL draft square off Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals (2-0) visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2).
Murray, the first pick in the 2019 draft, was named Offensive Rookie of the Year that season and earned his first Pro Bowl selection as a second-year player. His third NFL campaign is looking good as well, as Murray is the first quarterback in NFL history with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score in each of his first two games of a season.
“The game has really slowed down for him,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said of Murray, who threw for 400 yards against the Minnesota Vikings last week. “You see him doing stuff that he did at the collegiate level. He’s very confident in his legs and moving around, and making throws, and extending plays. It’s Year 3 and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Lawrence, meanwhile, has endured a challenging start to his rookie season. He has thrown five interceptions — along with four touchdown passes — and has only completed 50 percent of his passes in a pair of double-digit defeats.
“I hate losing, like I said last week, so it’s not fun, obviously,” Lawrence said. “But at the same time you’ve got to — you’ve just got to realize we’re getting better, and each week we’ve got to keep getting better, and it’s a long season. We’ve still got 15 more games, kind of like I said last week.
“That’s the mindset in the locker room, too. Everyone is frustrated. Everybody is disappointed. Obviously we worked our tails off to win this game, and we felt like we were prepared. Just got to keep getting better, though. We’ve got to make the play when our number is called and didn’t do that well enough (Sunday).”
Jacksonville ranks in the bottom six in the NFL in yards gained per game (292.0) and yards allowed per game (423.5). The team was outgained 398-189 in last week’s 23-13 home loss to the Denver Broncos — the Jaguars’ 17th straight defeat dating back more than a year.
Arizona, on the other hand, is second in the NFL in yards gained per game (445.0). The Cardinals have not been as solid defensively, allowing 333.5 yards per game, and they survived last week 34-33 when the Vikings missed a 37-yard field goal on the final play.
The Cardinals are hoping to have star wideout DeAndre Hopkins available, although he missed Wednesday’s practice with a rib injury. Right tackle Kelvin Beachum (ribs), left guard Justin Pugh (shoulder) and cornerback Marco Wilson (ankle) also sat out practice.
Jaguars center Brandon Linder (back) will miss Sunday’s affair, while cornerback C.J. Henderson (groin) and guard A.J. Cann (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and will have their statuses clarified as the week progresses.
Arizona has won the last three meetings, although the teams have not faced each other since 2017. The Cardinals prevailed in that one, 27-24, on Phil Dawson’s 57-yard field goal with one second left.