Tempe, Arizona. Nearly four full seasons into his NFL career, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Trace McSorley is slated to start his first game at quarterback.
McSorley, the Cardinal’s third-string quarterback all season, will start Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona coach Cliff Kingsbury said Wednesday because Arizona reserve Colt McCoy is still in concussion protocol after suffering a head injury in Sunday’s loss in Denver. Bronco.
McCoy started against the Broncos in place of the injured Kyler Murray, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a Week 14 loss to the New England Patriots.
“He’s one of those guys, I hate to use the term ‘gamer’,” Kingsbury said of McSorley, “but he’s got a lot of moxie, and he plays with a lot of confidence”. “Teammates respond to that.”
Kingsbury said McCoy was “feeling much better” and described the improvement as “encouraging”.
McSorley, a sixth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2019, said it’s hard not to think about the starting opportunity — especially since the game is in prime time, at Christmas and against Tom Brady.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” McSorley said. “I always want to let myself get that excited and feel that just a little bit so I can enjoy the moment but at the same time just be focused and ready to go.”
While McSorley said he learned in high school how to focus on one thing at a time so as not to be overwhelmed by the big picture enormity of a situation or game, the 27-year-old will also allow himself to capture the moment. From his first start and letting himself feel some nerves.
“My dad always said, ‘If you’re not uptight, it doesn’t matter to you,'” McSorley said. “So, it’s good to have that nerve and that feeling of being ready for a match.”
Kingsbury is eager to see how McSorley — who played in a career-high four games while setting career marks with 166 yards and three interceptions on 15-of-29 — handles after a full week of preparation. Kingsbury is also curious how McSorley carries himself when the spotlight is on him, especially after spending time this season only playing in “opposite positions.”
Kingsbury said McSorley earned his spot in the 53-man squad because of what he showed during the pre-season.
“It’s mobile and it can move,” Kingsbury said. “He’s had two throws that you want to take back, but he’s had two scoring drives.
“I just want to see how he works with some reps. It’s not easy going out there without any reps, basically the whole season, with the first team offense, so excited to see how he can perform with some reps this week.”
McSorley said he was “definitely excited” that Brady is the opposing quarterback making his first start. He remembered watching Brady take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX when McSorley was nine years old.
“It’s the goat,” McSorley said. “There are no two ways of putting that. But I just have to focus on what I can control. I’m going against their defense, not against it. So, that’s the way I try to look at it.
“But it’s great looking back and realizing starting against him the first time.”
McSorley will also have a personal cheer section at the game.
His parents and sister were already traveling to Arizona for the holidays, so it was a good idea to start McSorley when they were already in town, he said.
“Certainly for a first start, it will be nice to know they are there,” he said. “Honestly, more for them. I know if they weren’t here, they would be panicking at home.”
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