Advertisement
Share

Kenneth Murray Jr. is in middle of Chargers’ plan for dominant defense

Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray  Jr. warms up before a game.
Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. doesn’t take any football game lightly.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Kenneth Murray Jr. appeared in a football game Sunday at SoFi Stadium, one that didn’t count since it’s still the preseason.

Not that Murray viewed the game that way. Or any football game that way.

Two days later, the Chargers linebacker suggested he’d be willing to travel to extreme lengths just to play the sport he loves.

“They could put me on the other side of the world, Antarctica, and give me a football and I’ll be fine,” Murray said.

The Chargers, fortunately for them, won’t venture any farther than the East Coast this season. So Murray will have to be content with visits to more routine places such as Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The latest news and updates ahead of the Chargers ' road game against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night during Week 3 of the NFL preseason.

Beginning his second year, Murray missed the Chargers’ preseason opener because of an ankle injury. He returned to play 21 snaps in their 15-10 loss Sunday to San Francisco.

Advertisement

“I thought it was invaluable for him to play against that team,” coach Brandon Staley said. “That team really challenges you as a second-level player. There’s a lot of different personnel groupings, a lot of different types of runs, a lot of different types of passes, a lot of different types of motion.

“One of the highlights for us defensively was the way he communicated and the way he saw the game. He played calm. He was square. He was on it. He was running fast when he needed to run fast. He was staying calm when he needed to stay calm. He was really impacting the game.”

Murray heads an inside linebacker group that Staley has touted as a team strength throughout training camp. With Kyzir White and Drue Tranquill taking turns playing next to Murray, Staley said it’s as if the Chargers have three starters for two spots.

Last year, Murray led the team with 107 tackles, a franchise record for a rookie. He is expected to again be a major contributor on a defense that has welcomed back Derwin James.

New Chargers coach Brandon Staley credits much of his success to the examples set by his father and mother, even as she eventually passed away from cancer.

The team’s star safety missed 2020 because of a knee injury but has reemerged this summer to bolster hopes that the Chargers — with Staley calling the signals — can become one of the NFL’s top defenses.

Staley was the coordinator of a Rams defense that ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season.

“Best in the league, period,” Murray said when asked about this group’s potential. “That’s just the standard that we’re setting for ourselves. … It starts with that mindset.”


Advertisement