TEMPE – The excitement surrounding Kyler Murray’s return to Arizona Cardinals workouts Wednesday was tempered by memories of cornerback Jeff Gladney, who died in a car crash in the early hours of Memorial Day.
The Minnesota Vikings first round pick in 2020, Gladney signed with the Cardinals in March and was looking to reset after legal trouble kept him from playing in 2021.
“He was a great guy, he was working,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. “He was trying to get back on track. He smiled everyday and he was going to help us.”
The Cardinals held team and group meetings to discuss the loss before organized team activities began.
“We wanted to make sure guys were able to talk openly about the situation, their feelings,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “It’s hard to handle, but it gives all our players perspective on how precious life is.”
In the wake of this week’s events, Kingsbury said the presence of veterans Kelvin Beachum and Justin Pugh as well as Murray were important.
“It helped getting back into this but any time you get around those guys, I think the younger players gravitate toward them and try to feel better about the whole situation,” Kingsbury said.
This was Murray’s first time practicing with the team during an organized team event since the season ended. Since then, he has deleted all his posts and any Cardinals related ties on Instagram amid his contract dispute.
Receiver Rondale Moore said it was “a ton of fun” to have Murray in the backfield along with the Cardinals’ new addition of wide receiver Marquise Brown. Brown’s locker is next to Moore’s and the two have been working closely together. “He’s worked hard, he’s asked questions, so he has that humility of a guy that’s going on his fourth year.”
Even with the addition of another speedy receiver, Moore still considers himself the fastest of the group, even ahead of Hopkins, who was handed a six-week suspension for testing positive for an illegal performance enhancing drug.
While the offense is looking more familiar with returning starters, Joseph said he has been watching the growth of linebackers Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins.
“It’s their time,” he said. “Isaiah is going into his third year, Zaven into his second year. They’re first round picks. They have to help us.”
Joseph added that both have been trending in the right direction, but now “it’s about making consistent plays and not giving up plays.”
Cardinals voluntary team activities for veterans and rookies will continue through Friday, then for four days next week before mandatory minicamp starts on June 14. Whether Murray and the Cardinals will agree on an extension by then or whether he continues to show remains up in the air.