Kliff Kingsbury provided some legs for the Colt McCoy future coaching possibility this week when he was talking about his team’s backup quarterback who is now 3-1 as starter with the Cardinals.

“He’d be a phenomenal coach if he wanted to,” Kingsbury said of the former Longhorn. “Or he could run for governor of Texas and be just as good. He’s kind of got the gamut covered there, but I think he’s a man’s man. He’s an every-day type of person and he cares in that way. He just wants to help people and help the team be better.

“He can relate to anybody. He carries himself in a very humble manner. He loves the game as much as anybody I’ve been around. He wants to talk to DBs about techniques that give him trouble and linebackers about how he’s going to use his eyes in a certain coverage.”

McCoy’s impact in the locker room became apparent last season after linebacker Chandler Jones had two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits in a Week 11 win over Seattle in which McCoy started.

Since having a monster game against Tennessee in Week 1 in which he had five sacks, four tackles for loss and six quarterback hits, Jones had only one additional sack prior to the game against the Seahawks.

After the game, Jones said, “He’s a guy that’s mature, he’s been around. He’s a leader. I’ll tell a small story that I had about Colt this weekend. He saw me working on some moves and he was like, ‘Hey Chandler, I’m kind of hesitating on telling you this, but I see you thinking. Stop thinking. Just go. You’re one of the best players in this league.’

“He said to me, ‘Just go. Just be yourself.’ For someone to step out and have those words of encouragement to someone you know, but you really don’t know them, it means a lot and it goes to show what type of person he is. He could have chose not to say those things but I took it and I definitely retained it and it showed today.”

When asked about Jones’ comments, McCoy said, “I love football, I love the game, I’m always studying the game. Chandler is usually the best player on the field, right? He’s one of those guys that works at his craft constantly. On the field, in the locker room, he’s practicing moves, he’s pulling — he’s doing all these things that he does to make him Chandler Jones.

“What I told him this week — I’m surprised he talked about it — but it was … I just appreciate how hard he works. He’s one of our best players, he works hard at it, it means a lot to him. I just told him that he’s a closer. Go get your sacks. Work on this stuff all week, but go get the quarterback. Turn your brain off and go.

“I’m thankful to be on this team and have conversations like that. Everybody wants to win.”

It’s not talked about a lot because McCoy rarely plays and thus, doesn’t talk to the media much.

But, earlier this week following the win over the Rams, cornerback Antonio Hamilton was asked about McCoy’s play against the Rams.

Hamilton said, “Oh, man Colt is phenomenal man. I call him Colt McColt. That’s what I call him. I don’t call him Colt. I call him Colt McColt. He’s been in this league for a long time. So the guys already knew just based off of what he did last year; it just showed how great of a veteran and how great of a player that he still is. He prepares every week as if he’s going to start and I love talking to him. He’s always giving me feedback and I’m doing the same. He just makes everybody better. He just has that type of effect on this team.”

Asked to describe that feedback, Hamilton explained, “Like, when I’m at practice, when we have certain coverage, we’re like in a cover 3, I’m outside leverage. He’ll say, ‘Hey, I can’t fit that ball in the inside because of the way that you were playing it from the outside.’ So I stay in that position, if anything else happens, because like, I’m sure you guys have seen, I had three weeks in a row, essentially, where I gave up a seven-cut, which is a corner route.

“He was like, ‘Man, I think you should do this. Because your leverage and everything that you’ve been doing has been right. I think that you should give yourself a little bit more space, because this is where we’re trying to hit the ball when you’re in this position.’ And so just me getting that little bit of a sense of understanding it, helps me that I know that OK, on the outside leverage, I know where the ball is going. So I can put myself in a better position to make a play so I can see the quarterback.”

Of course, Kingsbury also likes what McCoy’s calm demeanor and savvy means to the offense and knows there can be patience with Murray and wait until he’s fully recovered from the hamstring injury that was first suffered against Minnesota and then made worse against Seattle before putting him  back on the field.

“I think with Colt; the games that he’s played for us, the biggest deal is the pre-snap recognition, getting it out to those playmakers on time, accurate within catch and run, and he’s just had a good feel for the offense since he’s been here,” Kingsbury said. “A lot of the concepts that he likes, he’ll communicate with us during the week, and he’ll have thoughts.

“It’s been good getting on the same page, but I think he hadn’t been in many situations with this type of talented receiving corps around him and I think that’s really showing up. When he has weapons like we have, he can be really efficient, get (the ball) to those guys and play at a high level.”

Most important is that Kingsbury believes what Murray can glean from being around McCoy and watching him play.

He said, “I think any game you watch there’s things you can look at that, ‘Hey, would I like to do this better, or I think we can do this you know, really well.’ I think Kyler is a very cerebral player as well and can take different things from each game plan and see how we can improve it. To me, just Colt’s ability to continue to battle when things didn’t go well.

“He got hurt, he stepped back in and just was the same guy. He didn’t get fazed by any of it. That’s kind of his biggest quarterback trait that I’ve been impressed by. He doesn’t get rattled and he just plays his game, sticks to his guns and trusts what he can do out there.”

For his part, Murray is glad to have McCoy on his side.

“Since I’ve been in the league or really my whole career, (he’s) been the only really veteran quarterback, besides ‘Bake’ (Baker Mayfield) obviously in college. He’s been around so much football, been around so many great coaches, dealt with a lot of players and schemes. He’s just a really intelligent football player and obviously great friend. He’s kind of got that father figure type of vibe to him.

“All the guys look to him and can trust him, really reliable, and accountable. He’s a great teammate (and) to have in my corner; the guys love him. There’s nothing more I could ask for out of a guy.”

Inside slants

The hits keep coming for the Cardinals as wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins did not practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury. Also not practicing were safety Budda Baker (ankle), tight end Zach Ertz (who Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Wednesday will have knee surgery and is out for the season, but isn’t on reserve/injured yet), tackle D.J. Humphries (back) and cornerback Byron Murphy (back).

Limited were quarterbacks Kyler Murray (hamstring and Colt McCoy (knee); linebacker Markus Golden (illness) and guard Max Garcia (shoulder). Kicker Matt Prater (right hip/illness) practiced full. Prater told gophnx.com Wednesday he feels fine after missing Sunday’s game against the Rams because of the flu, which also affected the remainder of his family.

Wide receiver Marquise Brown is not on the injury report because he’s not officially on the roster after being designated for return from reserve/injured Wednesday. Brown was on the field Thursday morning in the portion of practice open to the media and ran well in passing drills. Kingsbury said he has “a chance” of playing Monday night.

Brown said, “I’m a man of faith. I told them when I was hurt and they put me on IR that I’d be back in four weeks. It’s God’s plan. Just excited to be where I am right now.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time. However, I’m feeling each day is how we’re going to take it and approach it moving forward.”

Brown is anxious to be on the field the same time as Hopkins, who was suspended for the first six games of the season and then was reinstated the day after Brown injured his foot against Seattle.

“When I got traded here, I was like, ‘I really want to see what it looks like,’” he said. “I know what I’m capable of, so I’m excited.”

“If they’re both on the field, it’s dangerous,” Murray said while mentioning other receivers and added, “The weapons are endless. It’s just about executing and staying on schedule.”

Now, they have to wait and see if Hopkins will be able to play. He missed three games with a hamstring injury last season, the three games that McCoy started with Murray out because of a high-ankle sprain.

On the 49ers injury report, not practicing were defensive tackles Arik Armstead (foot/ankle) and Javon Kinlaw (knee); defensive ends Nick Bosa (rest) and Samson Ebukam (quadriceps/Achilles), cornerback Charvarius Ward (personal) and tackle Trent Williams (rest). Limited was wide receiver Danny Gray (ankle).

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me: howard@gophnx.com


Howard Balzer is in his 47th year covering professional football as a writer, editor and broadcaster and has covered 41 Super Bowls. His connection with pro football began in 1976 with College and Pro Football Newsweekly, and since then he has been a featured columnist for The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, USA Today Sports Weekly and The Sports Xchange. Balzer moved to St. Louis in 1978 to work for The Sporting News, where he became Pro Football Editor in 1979. He was an analyst on ESPN's initial broadcast of the NFL Draft in 1980 and continued in that role through 1988. He has won seven writing awards in the Professional Football Writers of America competition, won an Emmy for commentaries on KPLR-TV in St. Louis in 1986 and was nominated for an Emmy in 1988 and 1990. He was named the 2016 winner of the Bob Broeg Media Award presented by the St. Louis/Tom Lombardo Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. The award is for enthusiasm, integrity, professionalism and devotion to the game of football and is reserved for individuals whose contributions to football in the St. Louis area have made a significant difference. Balzer was an officer (secretary and secretary/treasurer) for the Professional Football Writers of America for 33 years and was inducted into the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Balzer relocated to the Phoenix area in 2020 as the publisher of the FanNation AllCardinals site and is now the Cardinals reporter for PHNX. He is entering his 19th year as one of 49 voting members on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is also on the Hall's Seniors Committee. He is the co-host of the weekly Pro Football Hall of Fame radio show on SiriusXM NFL Radio and is a part-time host at ArizonaSports 98.7 FM.