When Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray is feeling good about himself — when he’s in a rhythm and throwing with both velocity and touch — it’s not hard to tell. All you have to do is pay attention to the way he delivers the ball.
That’s right. When Murray is feeling it — really feeling it — he tends to flick his wrist on his follow through and keep it there, extended, for a split-second as the ball travels through the air. It’s a Steve Young-ish flourish his teammates absolutely love to tease him about.
“I get made fun of a little bit in the QB room — they tell me to stop posing so much,” Murray said with a laugh.
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But in the wake of Tyler Bray’s most recent injury — he missed Monday’s practice because of a chip fracture in his spine — Murray, who was elevated to Bray’s No. 3 spot, was slinging it so good Monday that he still broke out the pose multiple times.
In particular, Murray’s two fade balls to receiver Mike Williams were picture perfect, as was his jump-ball completion a few plays later to tight end Ross Travis for a touchdown. He also lofted a pretty ball to tight end James O’Shaughnessy for a short-distance touchdown on a bootleg and hummed a tight spiral to tight end Brian Parker on a slant in 7-on-7.
That some, or all, of those throws were punctuated with his trademark pose is an indication of how well he’s feeling these days, a notion Chiefs coach Andy Reid confirmed after practice while discussing Bray’s injury.
“Aaron Murray gets a few more reps — well deserving, too, because he’s playing well,” Reid said of Bray’s injury.
Murray also looked good in limited action during the Chiefs’ 17-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Saturday’s preseason opener, when he completed three of five passes for 52 yards — including a gorgeous 25-yard strike to receiver Da’Ron Brown — and showed some veteran savvy by drawing the Seahawks offsides twice with a hard count.
“I think he has a full grasp (of the offense),” Reid said. “We saw him against the blitz game coming after him, and he got the ball out fast, decisive, and made a couple of checks that were great.
“He is real intelligent — great football smarts. He brought good energy to the huddle. He missed the one throw, but other than that, I thought he was right on.”
On Monday, Murray mentioned the one errant throw — and overshot ball to a wide-open Brown on an out route — and grimaced.
“My arm angle was off — just not great mechanics,” Murray said.
That throw was disappointing to Murray because he’s spent a lot of time trying to refine his accuracy after a somewhat shaky performance in organized team activities.
A big part of fixing that, he said, was the time he spent in Atlanta with his trainer, Corey Bridges, who helped him improve his hip and ankle mobility in the month prior to camp.
“I always felt like I had a tough time following through (on my delivery), and a lot of that had to do with my ankle,” Murray said. “I broke it my senior year of high school and there was so much scar tissue in there. It was just like, super stiff.”
So Murray did a lot of deep tissue work in an effort to strengthen the ankle and make it more flexible, and since then, he’s not only been more accurate, but throwing with more velocity, even though Bray was generally more impressive throughout camp.
“All that stuff has just really allowed me to be able to come through the ball without having to feel like I’m stopping and jerky — it’s more fluid,” Murray said.
Murray added that his improved knowledge of the playbook — and where he should go with the football — has contributed to his recent improvement, and Reid agreed.
“Some of it with young quarterbacks is getting used to the drop according to the route and the coverage that they are presented, and/or blitz that they’re presented,” Reid said. “You probably could put that in mechanics, but it’s just a matter of seeing those things and having opportunities to study that part.”
With Bray’s injury length unknown — trainer Rick Burkholder said there is no timetable on his potential return — Murray could continue to see more opportunities in the Chiefs’ crowded quarterback room, something he feels fully prepared for.
“I haven’t felt this good throwing the ball in years,” Murray said. “I feel great right now.”