Aaron Murray found out the deal on Tuesday morning, hours before the Chiefs’ seventh offseason practice. For the first time this month, Murray would be taking most of the No. 2 quarterback reps that day, not Tyler Bray.
“(They) just wanted to flip things around, mix it up a little,” Murray said. “We knew going into this offseason it would be an open competition.”
Murray cautions against reading too much into the promotion, however.
“No, we’ve got a long way to go,” Murray said with a chuckle. “We’ve got another six practices now, a bunch of preseason stuff. So it’s going to be a long road.”
Which he’s fine with. Football, Murray said, is about competition.
“That’s what makes everyone better,” Murray said. “I know I’m looking forward to it. I know Tyler’s looking forward to it.”
Whoever wins the No. 2 job will not only be counted on be the next man up in case Alex Smith gets hurt, but also will serve as a sounding board for Smith.
If that plays a role in who wins the job, Murray and Bray probably have the edge over fifth-round rookie Kevin Hogan. Hogan has made some nice throws, but Murray and Bray have spent multiple years in the Chiefs’ wordy offensive system, and are getting most of the backup reps right now.
And while nothing will likely be decided until training camp, Murray made it clear that this is an important time of year for quarterbacks to build chemistry with receivers, laying the groundwork for a strong August.
“Really, it’s a passing camp,” Murray said of organized-team activities. “It’s huge for us, as quarterbacks, tight ends and receivers, with timing. Because they can’t bump and run, so a lot of it is us learning our footwork and timing up our feet with different receivers, understanding how each guy might come out of a break a little differently or run a route a little differently.”
Murray, who was hailed for his solid decision-making during his four-year career at Georgia, has some areas he’d like to work on over the final six practices of OTAs.
Murray’s arm strength, which was touted as average when he was a rookie, has noticeably improved in the two years since then, but his deep-ball accuracy remains an area where he needs to improve.
“Gotta work on the accuracy, but strength, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” Murray said. “We’ve been really focusing in on this all (offseason) of really strengthening our shoulders. We’ve been doing it every day, which has helped out a lot.”
Murray also has put an emphasis on getting through his reads faster and deciphering the defensive looks being thrown his way.
“It’s understanding OK, they’re showing me this, now I’ve got to get my first, second, third, fourth (reads),” Murray said.
Bray, who boasts a bigger arm than Murray but is still commanding the mental aspects of the position, is working on the same thing.
Assuming Murray’s ascension on Tuesday is a case of the staff simply wanting to see what Murray can do, whichever quarterback comes the along the farthest in the area figures to be the favorite in a competition that will stretch into the preseason.
Bray, however, will have to overcome the additional challenge of shaking off the rust after spending the last two years on injured reserve due to knee and ankle injuries.
“One of the things you don’t get to see until you get in the game is the quarterback being hit, or that threat of being hit, so you have to wait until the preseason games to see that,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Bray. “As you go back and think about how he did it before, he’s pretty cool in the pocket, we always talk about happy feet and wandering eyes and that’s not what he had when he was young, I wouldn’t expect him to have it now.”