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Andy Isabella gets his opportunity, scores 2 TDs for Cardinals vs. Lions

Wide receiver Andy Isabella #17 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a 13-yard touchdown reception past defensive back Tracy Walker #21 and cornerback Darryl Roberts #29 of the Detroit Lions in the first half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals second-year wideout Andy Isabella has not taken the most traditional route to production that we typically see out of a second-round pick.

After never playing more than 40% of the team’s snaps in a game as a rookie and only catching nine total passes, it was fair to be worried about Isabella. That’s especially true when considering the fact that the guys he was losing playing time to were KeeSean Johnson, Damiere Byrd and Pharoh Cooper.

Isabella said Sunday that was partially due to his mental approach.

“My mind was one of the biggest things that was holding me back,” he said. “Let a lot of people get in my mind. And I think me changing my mindset, where, I worked so hard for this, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go out there with an edge.”

Isabella never quite found his footing all year, but in Year 2 he finally had that moment.

He caught four passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 26-23 loss for Arizona to the Detroit Lions.

“Game has slowed down for him,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “(He) really worked hard at his craft and (it’s) good to see him have that success today.”

With Christian Kirk out due to a groin injury, that opened the door for Isabella to get past a count of 14 snaps in each of his first two games this season.

“Glad to see him get his opportunity today,” quarterback Kyler Murray said.

With the increased playing time for Isabella came production.

He had three of his four catches on one drive. After receptions for 26 and four yards in the late first quarter, Murray made a beautiful throw to the corner of the end zone that Isabella reeled in.

“My job is to win the route,” Isabella said. “Kyler made great throws and we executed them really well.”

That viewpoint from Isabella on what he’s supposed to do spoke well to his second touchdown, where Isabella’s quick out toward the sideline created enough separation for the score.

The Cardinals will hope this is a breakthrough of sorts for Isabella, who provides a speedy vertical threat that’s currently missing on the roster while DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald continue to amass the majority of the targets in the shorter-yardage throws made by Murray.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Isabella said. “Came out with the edge today, got a lot of opportunities and you don’t ever know when you’re going to get your next opportunity. So, very grateful for the opportunity today and came out with that edge and played with that edge and made plays.”


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