Cardinals’ young LB duo of Zaven Collins, Isaiah Simmons close on and off field

Aug 9, 2021, 4:34 PM

GLENDALE — When the Cardinals drafted linebacker Zaven Collins in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the rookie’s introductory press conference was quick to make the NFL rounds thanks to his odd metaphors and phrases.

So once Collins made his trek to the Valley, he already had quite the reputation with teammate Isaiah Simmons.

“I actually told Zaven this, I didn’t think me and him were gonna be good friends when he first got here,” Simmons said Thursday. “I thought he was gonna be a weirdo, but turns out we’re really good friends.”

Collins remembered the initial exchange a little differently.

“I think he first described it to me as being a square, whatever that means,” Collins said Monday. “Me and Isaiah are good friends, we have dinners all the time together. We hang out as much as we can when we can. We’re next to each other all the time in meeting rooms, film rooms, especially now, we’re with the team 24/7. … and even the weekends we’re always together.”

That friendship off the field can only help the duo as they embark on their first season together as the team’s starting inside linebackers.

All signs point to the rookie gaining his traction as the defense’s quarterback, with numerous coaches and players remarking on his progression so far this camp.

But that’s not to say there still aren’t some growing pains as game speed ramps up ahead of Friday night’s preseason matchup against the Cowboys.

“During the training and OTA camps that is one thing and then you get into training camp like here we are now, you’re install, install, install, install and guys are running like their hairs are on fire so everyone’s looking at you to get that call out to them,” Collins said.

“There’s been issues but just got to roll through them but it is day and night from what it was when we first got here and now because of the speed of the game and all that. It’s something that I love and love having that weight on my shoulders. I think it’s going good so far.”

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Cardinals’ young LB duo of Zaven Collins, Isaiah Simmons close on and off field