After rallying for Week 1 wins as underdogs, the Arizona Cardinals and the Washington Football Team aim for faster starts when they meet Sunday afternoon in Glendale, Ariz.
With no preseason to work out kinks and no juice from the crowd, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said he noticed player fatigue and sloppy play during Week 1. But he expects a "huge jump" across the league for Week 2.
"I'm not sure if anything prepares you for what that was," Kingsbury said of playing last week's 24-20 victory at San Francisco in an empty stadium. "I'm hopeful that, now that we have one under our belt, we can adjust a little bit sooner. ...
"We have to be able to come out and get ourselves ready to go and operate at a high level. I would hope the familiarity with our stadium helps that. But we gotta find a way, whatever it is, to get ourselves going in the first quarter."
Arizona (1-0) and Washington (1-0) have plenty to glean from their openers.
Washington rallied from 17-0 down to beat Philadelphia 27-17 in Ron Rivera's debut as the team's head coach.
Washington was anchored by a defense that compiled eight sacks. Two of those came from end Ryan Kerrigan, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career. Kerrigan also had a fumble recovery while playing just 22 snaps and dominating an Eagles' offensive line without three planned starters.
"He's a proud player," Rivera said of Kerrigan. "He wants to play. But he also understands that, ‘When I get an opportunity, I gotta make the most of it.'"
Kingsbury said it was "nerve racking" watching Washington's physical front on tape. The coach said getting the ball out on time will be crucial for Cardinals second-year quarterback Kyler Murray, who posted the NFL's fifth-best QBR last week (85.0).
Murray completed 26 of 40 passes for 230 yards, one touchdown and one interception against a stout San Francisco defense. He quickly established a connection with flashy offseason acquisition DeAndre Hopkins, who totaled 14 catches for 151 yards in his Cardinals debut.
"He definitely has one of the strongest arms I've ever played with," Hopkins said of Murray. "His ball is accurate. You guys can see from this past Sunday, him throwing a football from one hash of the football field all the way to the sideline.
"Not many quarterbacks can make that throw, and not many try to make that throw. So for him to be confident enough in his arm as a second-year quarterback to make that throw, it speaks a lot about his arm ability."
Murray also has the elusiveness to escape the pocket. He rushed for 91 yards against the 49ers, including a 22-yard score to give Arizona its first lead early in the fourth quarter.
Arizona safety Jalen Thompson (ankle) and center Mason Cole (hamstring), who both left last week's game and did not return, did not practice Wednesday. Linebacker Kylie Fitts (wrist) and tight end Maxx Williams (ankle) also did not practice Wednesday, while offensive lineman Josh Jones was limited.
Washington linebacker Cole Holcomb, who left last week's game with a knee injury but returned, was limited in practice Wednesday.
The Redskins haven't started a season 2-0 since 2011, when they defeated the Cardinals in Week 2, 22-21. The Cardinals haven't started 2-0 since 2015 when they won the NFC West.
--Field Level Media