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Kyler Murray 'Hopeful' to Play Sunday After Long Absence

After missing three games, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is hopeful he will play in Sunday's road game against the Chicago Bears.

The term "hopeful" has been tossed around like a rag doll at the Arizona Cardinals practice facility for over a month. 

Don't let the 2-1 record in quarterback Kyler Murray's absence (due to an ankle injury) fool you: The Cardinals have missed Murray's uncanny ability to make leftovers out of scraps with the ball in his hands. 

It's been a constant cycle: Each week, media members speak with head coach Kliff Kingsbury and ask about the status of Murray. Kingsbury replies with a very broad answer usually involving the world "hopeful," and Murray's status remains a mystery to the outside world until inactives are reported 90 minutes before kickoff. 

However, after a bye week, Murray (and receiver DeAndre Hopkins) had four full weeks of rest from their respective nagging injuries. 

During the open portion of practice on Wednesday, Murray was spotted going through individual drills and throwing to receivers.

"I mean, practice today, the first couple of live reps felt like I had been doing it the past three, four weeks. I think it's moreso mental, you know, it's staying in the game, obviously there's certain parts that you can't really control because you're not out there every day," Murray said to reporters on Wednesday. 

"You're not practicing, you're not throwing the ball, stuff like that. But I try to do as much as I can, (similar to) when I was out. Just trying to stay close to it and prepare myself for when I do come back that I'm not feeling clueless out there."

Murray was a favorite to compete for the NFL's MVP award prior to his injury late in the Thursday Night Football loss to the Green Bay Packers. 

When asked if he was confident if he would play on Sunday, that dreaded word made it's way back around, this time coming from the horse's mouth.

"Hopeful," answered Murray. 

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Kingsbury described Hopkins and Murray as limited in Wednesday's practice. 

"We want to make sure they feel good and kind of ease them back into the week. Tomorrow we'll have pads on and hopefully they can do a little bit more," Kingsbury said. 

After having Colt McCoy as the team's starter for the previous slate of games, there may be a small adjustment period for Murray and his offensive line to once again sync with each other. 

Murray says if and when the time comes for him to play, that shouldn't be too big of a problem. 

"Maybe. Maybe the offensive line (has problems with) cadence and stuff like that. Drops, depth of drops if we're trying to get technical. Yeah, maybe, but I don't think so. These guys have been around me for a long time, so I think it should be an easy transition," Murray said. 

When asked to reflect on his time away, Murray surprisingly opened up.

He said, "You play the play over and over again in your head. And then the way the game ended, you wish you didn't get hurt and how could I have not gotten hurt. All this stuff plays in your head until you get back on the field. It can eat at you and stuff like that. I'm over it at this point.

"So like I said, I'm in a good head space, (I) feel fine. We're 9-2, we have the best record in the league. Obviously, none of that matters right now. Gotta keep going. So I'm excited where we are as a team. Guys are happy to be back, refreshed off a good bye, had a good Thanksgiving. So like I said, I like where we're at."

While the Cardinals hope Murray can progress be well enough to play on Sunday, both the team and Murray understand Arizona's ultimate goal will require the pace of a marathon, not a sprint. There's no real urgency to push Murray's ankle issues if he isn't ready. 

After all, what's a good runner without a healthy ankle?