Cardinals Red and White practice: Isaiah Simmons welcomes mistakes

Aug 28, 2020, 2:55 PM | Updated: 10:42 pm

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (48) runs drills during an NFL football training camp W...

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (48) runs drills during an NFL football training camp Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals got individual drills and brief but intense 11-on-11 action into their Red & White practice Friday before shutting down key players.

The day was truly a time for Arizona’s starters to go through a pregame routine without fans. It also provided coaches and the front office to get a game-type atmosphere around evaluation of young players. While that includes undrafted free agents and guys at risk of not making the 53-man roster — cuts come Saturday, Sept. 5 — the scrimmage also provided valuable reps for young draft picks like rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons.

He remained on the field to get more work in after the starters ramped down. The Cardinals have put a lot on the No. 8 pick over the past two-plus weeks of camp, and they’ve been impressed with his ability to retain information.

“I’d say the unique thing about Isaiah is the athleticism can cover up a lot of things,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Even if he’s not sure about a coverage or a drop or where he’s supposed to be on a certain play, he’s so fast, so long, he can cover ground so much that he can make up for it.

“We tried to put a lot on his plate to get him up to speed with the limited offseason, the limited camp. I thought he’s responded really well. He’s flashed every day. He’s been game, he’s been ready to work.”

Simmons agreed that he’s found himself recovering a few times since camp began.

“There’s definitely been times like that, just for example maybe covering someone and then just taking like the wrong step, maybe a run read first, and being able to come back and get into coverage,” he said.

Now, it’s a matter of how the Cardinals use him.

Listed as an inside linebacker, what Simmons has done in practices isn’t for public consumption due to media policies, but he did one day this past week leave inside linebacker drills during an open portion of practice to go through individual work with the cornerbacks.

It’s a sign that he very well could move all over the field, as Arizona doesn’t need him with Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell being their two starting inside linebackers.

Simmons may have a lot to learn, but he welcomes the reps and the opportunity to grow.

He said the game has slowed down over the whirlwind of the past two weeks of on-field work.

“Personally, I feel like whether I have a lot or a little (reps), it’s just time to go out there to either make mistakes or make the best out of everything,” Simmons said. “The mistakes are good that I made, lots of things to learn from.”

Hello to nobody

The Cardinals held their Red & White practice at State Farm Stadium without fans, just as at least the first three games of the regular season will be.

Arizona announced that the first two home games will not include fans. Their Sept. 13 opener at San Francisco will not, either.

So Friday, there were Larry Fitzgerald and D.J. Humphries amping up the crowd as they were introduced before “kickoff.”

“Man, it’s been completely different,” Humphries said. “Today was kind of like, it was strange almost. Until you get to competing, it’s hard to kind of get the blood flowing a little bit. I’m sure it’ll be different, you look out there and you see the 49ers out there instead of Chandler (Jones) and Corey (Peters) running out on the field.

“I didn’t realize how much juice the crowd gave me until I ran out there and had to get it going myself.”

Reporters were allowed to watch and report on several stretches of the practice Friday, including a mock game-like warmup routine where you’re usually able to take away something about who might be in line to be starters. At least, you can in a regular season pregame.

Reminder: There are still two weeks before the season opener.

Another reminder: You know what they say about people who make assumptions.

Those warnings understood, let’s get into a few odds and ends:

— DeAndre Hopkins suited up and went through drills with his teammates. He lined up for the first route concept drill next to fellow WRs Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, tight end Dan Arnold and running back Chase Edmonds.

— Arnold and Edmonds were in there because Maxx Williams and Kenyan Drake remain out. The banged up duo, however, watched the scrimmage from the sidelines. Neither were in walking boots.

— Right tackle Kelvin Beachum lined up as the right tackle. He appears to be the favorite over Justin Murray, who can provide depth at guard as well as tackle, and rookie Josh Jones.

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