Cardinals’ Leki Fotu seeing game slow down as he enters Year 2

Aug 17, 2021, 4:08 PM

Defensive lineman Leki Fotu goes through drills during Day 3 of Cardinals mandatory minicamp on Thu...

Defensive lineman Leki Fotu goes through drills during Day 3 of Cardinals mandatory minicamp on Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE — Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Leki Fotu was one of a number of young players who took it upon themselves to get back to work just days after the team’s season finale loss to the Los Angeles Rams dashed their postseason aspirations.

For Fotu, it was about chasing not only his goals but those of the team.

Now in his second season and getting an actual NFL offseason under his belt, the lineman out of Utah has seen noticeable growth.

“Coming in from last year to this year the game definitely has become a little bit slower. Now really understanding the whole defensive scheme playing under [Vance Joseph] and [Brentson Buckner],” Fotu said Tuesday. “For me, playing anywhere from the inside to out definitely has become more slower.

“Understanding the formations, the tilts and all that, Coach Buck has done an outstanding job during the offseason and leading into camp teaching us and getting a feel for the offense to make our jobs easier. No matter from the inside to out.”

It hasn’t been all rainbows and sunshine for Fotu this offseason, however.

The day before Arizona’s first preseason matchup of the year, the lineman was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list along with running back James Conner, tight end Darrell Daniels and safety Charles Washington.

“Being out for those five days and obviously missing the game was definitely rough on me to see the guys out there,” Fotu said. “Just knowing the work that I put in this offseason leading up to that point and getting the call that I had to sit out for that five days, close contact.

“I tried everything in my power at home, quarantine again to work out, stay on top of my stuff to make sure I’m ready to come back this week and prepare for the Chiefs.”

The Cardinals’ second depth chart of the season had little changes, with Fotu still slated behind Jordan Phillips at defensive tackle. Phillips has yet to practice this offseason, leaving Fotu as the team’s likely starter at the position come Friday.

Kingsbury does not expect LB Chandler Jones to play Friday

The Cardinals will likely be without linebacker Chandler Jones when they take on the Chiefs this Friday.

Jones was a notable absentee from practice on Tuesday, though Kingsbury said the linebacker wasn’t dealing with anything serious.

The pass rusher enters 2021 after only playing five games last year after suffering a biceps injury that require season-ending surgery. He finished the season with one sack, 11 tackles and seven QB hits.

Fellow linebacker Markus Golden was another name not out on the practice field, marking the second straight day he’s missed.

While Golden is dealing with something minor, Kingsbury said he would be a game-day decision.


– Kingsbury regarding wide receiver Andy Isabella and his second stint on the COVID list:

“We’re gonna see how it all plays out. It definitely doesn’t help the development, didn’t have a preseason last year. We would have liked him to get to play in these games, unfortunately he hasn’t been able to but Kyler said it — he’s smart, knows the system inside and out. Can play inside, can play outside, so as far as understanding what we’re trying to accomplish, he won’t miss much.”

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