The Kansas City Chiefs take on the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, and they'll be facing second-year quarterback Austin Davis, who began the season as the Rams third-string quarterback.
Due to unfortunate injuries to Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill, Davis was asked to step in and take on a much larger role than initially planned for him this season.
For the Chiefs third-string quarterback, rookie Aaron Murray, this season is about development and learning everything he can from the two veterans ahead of him on the depth chart.
"If I sat back and just wasted this year and didn't do the extra film work or didn't go out there and work on my footwork and take the time to study Alex (Smith) and Chase (Daniel), it's a wasted year," Murray explained. "I think Chase [Daniel] feels the same way. We literally take each day and say 'Hey, if we were the starter of the Kansas City Chiefs, how would we prepare?'"
Between offensive-minded coach Andy Reid, Smith and Daniel, Murray has all of the knowledge needed to develop into a successful NFL quarterback at his disposal.
"Learning from Alex (Smith), learning from Chase (Daniel), from this coaching staff has been awesome," Murray said. "I just feel like I continue to learn more and more about the playbook. I continue to understand how the concepts work by watching Alex Smith practice and by watching film, by watching how he goes out there and performs in the game."
In his four years at Georgia, Murray became the most successful quarterback in SEC history, an accomplishment that is as impressive as it sounds. He's the SEC's all-time leader in completions (921), yards (13,166), touchdown passes (121) and total offense (13,562).
But even with that résumé, Murray stepped into a situation in Kansas City where there was already a solidified starting quarterback in Alex Smith, who helped lead the Chiefs to the biggest turnaround in franchise history last season.
View the top shots of rookie quarterback, Aaron Murray from 2014.
It's a situation Murray isn't taking for granted, and he appreciates what he gets to learn from Smith on a daily basis.
"One is leadership," Murray explained of watching and learning from Smith. "He gets along with everyone. He's a great leader. Everyone on the team looks up to Alex (Smith) so seeing the way he acts on the field, interacting with the guys, in the locker room, up eating lunch, the way he carries himself, very positive. But he also works hard.
"In this quarterback group, you're automatically expected to be first-one-in, last-one-out and as a group, we grind away and he's our leader as a group and does a great job of leading us and making sure we're on the same page with the game plan, with the film study and making sure we're ready to go."
Since training camp, Murray believes that he has already improved, but explained that it's not just about being more comfortable in the Chiefs system.
"I think one of the biggest things is the knee," Murray said. "Both legs continue to get stronger and stronger every week and I can feel the difference in throwing the ball—the velocity and the accuracy. Throwing comes a lot from the hips, comes a lot from the legs. It's not just your arms so the stronger my legs have been getting, the more trust I get to step into throws."
When asked what nuances and details he's improved since training camp, Murray said it's about the timing and rhythm of the offense, which can only come with time.
"The footwork big time," Murray explained. "To be able to have your feet in perfect rhythm, to be able to hit that fifth step and rip it and understand how your feet time up with certain routes, so that's all repetition, the more reps you get, that's definitely helped out."
As Murray and the Chiefs get set to face a player on Sunday in the Rams' Austin Davis, who like himself, began the season as the third-string quarterback, Murray takes it in stride and understands how to take advantage of the situation he's currently in with the Chiefs. "These two quarterbacks that we have ahead of me are just very knowledgeable guys," Murray said. "I would say we probably have the two smartest guys in the NFL at our quarterback position so just learning from them day-in and day-out has been beneficial."