Arizona’s much-improved defense big reason for 3-0 start

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. remembers during his rookie season in 2019, glancing across the field at Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones, realizing he had to guard him and feeling a little surreal.

“I looked to their sideline and said ‘That’s a big dude,'” Murphy said, grinning.

Two years later, it might be opposing receivers who are a little apprehensive about facing Murphy and the Cardinals.

The Arizona Cardinals are 3-0 this season and a lot of the publicity rightfully goes to the team’s prolific offense, which is led by dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray and All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins. But their much-improved defense has more than held its own, developing into an above-average group under third-year defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

They’ll get another test this week in an NFC West showdown when they face the undefeated Los Angeles Rams (3-0) and veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has flourished in L.A. since his trade from Detroit.

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