It’s preseason, but for Trace McSorley, his first NFL start Friday against the Bengals is a big deal.

The quarterback has the opportunity to strengthen his case to be QB3 on the depth chart behind Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy, a spot he first got late last season when the Cardinals signed him off the Ravens’ practice squad.

“I was able to come in last year and have (QB coach) Cam (Turner) and Kliff (Kingsbury) get me up to speed on the game plan as best they could with me coming in midseason,” McSorley said. “Then to have them go through the playbook from the ground up and learn their thought process on each play call and what they’re trying to attack made it a great offseason.”

Beating the Bengals tops McSorley’s list on what would make it a successful game. But on a personal level, that tangibly works out to taking care of the ball, leading an efficient offense, and scoring a couple of touchdowns.

McSorley is trying to beat out Jarrett Guarantano, an undrafted rookie from Washington State, for a potential roster spot. If he can complete his wish list on Friday, it will be a step in the right direction.

Kingsbury has praised both young quarterbacks during training camp.

“Jarrett has done a nice job,” Kingsbury said. “I’ve been impressed. I think he’s taking advantage of the opportunity he’s gotten with some of those other guys sitting out or resting their arms.

“I didn’t realize Trace was as good a thrower as he is, just getting around and watching him operate from the pocket. He’s turned himself into a nice NFL player. Every level he’s found a way to get it done, and I expect it to be the same here. We’ll see how it all plays out. I’ve been proud of both guys and their development, just excited to see them play on Friday.”

GREEN GOES BACK TO CINCINNATI

A.J. Green will make his return to Cincinnati on Friday, his first trip back since the wideout left the organization after the 2020 season.

Green made his mark in 10 years with the AFC North franchise. He left ranked second in franchise history in receptions (649), receiving yards (9,430), and TD receptions (65) while being selected to seven Pro Bowls.

Despite all of that, Green — who isn’t expected to play — doesn’t think it’ll be an emotional return.

“I really don’t,” Green said. “I played nine seasons there and had a really great time. I still have some close friends that are still part of that organization, so it’s good to go back and see them.”

MURRAY’S RETURN KEEPS GOING

Kyler Murray continues to trend in the right direction after his bout with Covid and a sore wrist. The quarterback threw passes along the sidelines during the practice on Wednesday but this time also participated in quarterback drills.

Kingsbury said he hopes Murray can return to a full workload by next week, but emphasized the team will continue to be smart in amping his reps.

Offensive lineman Rodney Hudson could also return next week, Kingsbury said.

“Hopefully, we can get the band back together and start moving forward as a first offensive unit,” Kingsbury said.



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