Like quarterbacks on offense, someone on the defense has to relay the play calls and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Those responsibilities typically fall on a veteran player, but not always. If Los Angeles Chargers rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray has his way, he will have those duties in 2020.
"I made the calls and checks all three years," Murray said on the RapSheet and Friends podcast, highlighting his ability to quickly internalize a playbook at a young age.
Oklahoma, Murray's alma mater and a Big 12 powerhouse, has built its reputation in recent years for its high-flying offense. Still, the program improved defensively last season thanks in part to Murray's emergence as one of the nation's top linebackers. He possesses the athleticism to close quickly on ball carriers and the intelligence to quickly diagnose plays before and after the snap. The Chargers believe those traits will serve him well as he acclimates to the NFL.
Murray will have to battle for a role early in his career. The Chargers return veteran Denzel Perryman and second-year pro Drue Tranquill and added Nick Vigil in free agency. Murray has the potential to grow into the best of the group, but the coronavirus-affected offseason could limit his ability to contribute as early as he might otherwise.
Accordingly, whether Los Angeles opts to give play-call responsibilities to Murray this year remains to be seen. Even so, the rookie feels comfortable with the way his preparation has unfolded so far.
"For sure," Murray said. "It's just something that I don't have a problem with. I'm extremely comfortable doing that. It's what I'm preparing for right now which is why I spent so much time in it right now. Just get it down pat so that way if that's given to me, appointed to me this season, I'm able to go out there prepared and everybody can count on me to be able to get everybody lined up."
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH