HEADLINE

Kyler Murray expected to return as Cardinals host Falcons

Field Level Media

November 09, 2023 at 9:01 am.

Following a heartbreaking loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Atlanta Falcons hit the road looking to snap a two-game losing streak against an Arizona Cardinals team that may welcome back star quarterback Kyler Murray on Sunday.

Atlanta (4-5) benched Desmond Ridder in favor of Tyler Heinicke prior to the game against Minnesota but lost for the third time in four games behind the late-game heroics of Joshua Dobbs, who was acquired five days earlier at the trade deadline.

Atlanta took a 28-24 lead with 2:08 to go in the game, but Dobbs converted a fourth-and-7 at the Falcons’ 34-yard line when he scrambled 22 yards to keep the drive alive. Three plays later, Dobbs connected with Brandon Powell for a 6-yard touchdown with 22 seconds to play.

“The fact that he got traded this week and comes in and plays like that? He’s a good player, man,” Heinicke said following the game. “Playing on a short week, learning a new playbook and scoring 31 points. Kudos to him.”

In his first start with Atlanta, Heinicke led the Falcons to a season-high 28 points by passing for 268 yards and a touchdown. But his lone interception late in the third quarter led to a crucial 31-yard field goal by Greg Joseph.

Arthur Smith announced Monday that he was sticking with Heinicke as the starting quarterback against Arizona (1-8), but that the position will be re-evaluated starting after the game, when the Falcons enter their bye week.

“So right now, in the short term, we feel where we’re at, everything we’ve got going on right now, we feel like Taylor gives us the best chance,” Smith said.

Murray wasn’t on Arizona’s injury report as of Wednesday and he is trending to start on Sunday after working with the first-team offense all week. Murray tore the ACL in his right knee in a game last December and was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday.

“He’s been practicing at a high level. You’ve seen him make those unscripted movements,” offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said. “People are around his feet, and he seems comfortable doing it. We’re not going to put him out there until he feels completely comfortable. Certainly health-wise he is, but there is a mental aspect to it.”

In 11 games last season, Murray passed for 2,368 yards and 14 touchdowns, while he was intercepted seven times. He also ran for 418 yards and three scores.

If Murray doesn’t start, Clayton Tune would likely make his second pro start. In a 27-0 loss to Cleveland last week, Tune completed 11 of 20 passes for 58 yards and threw two interceptions. He also was sacked seven times.

Arizona’s offense has scored 10 or fewer points in three of its last four games, so a healthy Murray would be a welcome sight to wideout Marquise Brown, who leads the Cardinals with 42 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns.

“Nobody’s like him,” Brown said of Murray.

James Conner (knee) and Michael Wilson (shoulder) were limited in Wednesday’s practice. Emari Demercado (toe), Trystan Colon (calf), Will Hernandez (knee), D.J. Humphries (ankle), Cameron Thomas (illness), Zeke Turner (hamstring) and Marco Wilson (knee) were held out of practice.

Richie Grant (neck) and Drake London (groin) were limited for the Falcons. Dee Alford (ankle), Calais Campbell (rest), DeMarcco Hellams (hamstring), Mack Hollins (ankle), David Onyemata (rest/ankle) and Cordarrelle Patterson (rest) did not participate.