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Tempe, Ariz. — Quarterback Kyler Murray spent his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals dealing with issues big and small: Becoming a leader, reading defenses, studying film and knowing when to use his speed.

Even where to put his AirPods on Sunday mornings so he doesn’t forget them and wreck his pregame routine. 

“I was already like five minutes away from the house,” Murray said with a wry smile, adding it was too late to turn around. “It was tough. That was a tough morning.”

It was one of his few bad moments in a promising season for the 22-year-old, who was selected by the Cardinals with the top pick despite being short for an NFL quarterback at 5-foot-10. His height hasn’t been an issue through 15 games and he’s mostly thrived under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury and his “Air Raid”-style offense.

The Cardinals are in a good mood these days after winning two straight games against the Browns and Seahawks and improving to 5-9-1 for the season. The surge came too late to get into the playoff race, but there’s hope within the organization that better days are ahead in 2020.

Kingsbury and Murray have grown together throughout the past four months, learning how to communicate and work through the game plan so that the Cardinals are at their best on Sundays. The 40-year-old coach said Murray – who many describe as friendly but a little introverted – is slowly learning the difficult task of becoming the face of an organization.

“I think until you’re in that seat and feel that type of all-encompassing pressure each and every day, you don’t know what it is,” Kingsbury said. 

“Then you have a bunch of grown millionaires looking at you for direction and leadership and how you carry yourself, and that’s a lot to walk into. I just think the comfort level of being able to handle that every day and that expectation on him every day. 

“This franchise goes as he goes, whether it’s in a meeting or at practice or in a game. I think he’s growing into that.”

He’s also growing into quite a quarterback when it comes to things on the field. He’s thrown for 3,397 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while also running for 544 yards and four touchdowns. 

He tweaked his right hamstring in a win against Seattle and Kingsbury said Murray is “day to day” for the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams. 

Roethlisberger refutes report 

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took to Twitter Christmas morning to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Then came a second tweet that addressed an ESPN report from earlier this week that implied Roethlisberger had doubts about returning to the Steelers in 2020.

“P.S. Contrary to recent reports out there about my football future and my ‘uncertainty’ about playing again, I am working hard and am more determined than ever to come back stronger and better than ever next year!”

Roethlisberger was injured in the second game of the season against Seattle and had surgery shortly thereafter. He was placed on injured reserve.

Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this year that he expects to be ready for training camp.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, who filed the report, later clarified his original report.

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