Kingsbury: ‘Big week’ ahead for WR Andy Isabella; OL Winters, Murray return
Aug 23, 2021, 3:07 PM
GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals got noticeably healthier Monday in the final week of the training camp at State Farm Stadium.
While newcomer J.J. Watt will have more than enough eyes watching his every move, as the defensive lineman finally gets some practice reps in, he won’t be the only player under the microscope this week with wide receiver Andy Isabella clearing COVID protocols Monday.
The week represents an important stretch for Isabella, who is fighting to secure one of the final roster spots up for grabs within the wide receivers room.
“I’d say it’s a big week, he hasn’t had any preseason action yet and that’s important to see how he responds in the game and I expect him to play a lot on Saturday,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Despite Kingsbury’s belief that Isabella would make the Cardinals a better team offensively, the type of production the head coach envisioned has yet to take form. The wideout enters Year 3 of his career with 413 yards and three touchdowns on his NFL resume.
His absence this training camp hasn’t helped matters either.
Since the team opened camp, Isabella has been placed on the COVID list twice, with his most recent stint starting on Aug. 11.
As a result, Isabella has been sidelined for both preseason games and has missed crucial practice time, allowing fringe players like Andre Baccellia and Antoine Wesley added opportunities to make their case for a final roster spot.
“We’re gonna see how it all plays out,” Kingsbury said last week. “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.”
Starting RG competition to heat up with return of Winters, Murray
For the most part, the Cardinals starting offensive line is set.
The only question mark is at starting right guard, a spot that has been filled for most of training camp by second-year lineman Josh Jones. His competition, Brian Winters and Justin Murray, have been sidelined due to their respective ailments.
But after prolonged stints on the sideline, both Winters and Murray are back out practicing with the team to start the final week of training camp. The hope is that when camp breaks, they’ll be full-go.
“They got to get back into it and start competing and we’ll see where they’re at,” Kingsbury said Monday. “But we know they can both play at a high level. They’ve both done it, it’s about knocking the rust off and getting rolling again.”
As of Monday, Murray is slotted as the team’s starting right guard, with Winters pegged as his backup.
And despite being the team’s starting right guard for the first two preseason games, Jones sits behind Kelvin Beachum at right tackle.
“We got a bunch of guys that are competing and we’re a room that kinda thrives off that — playing hard and being competitive with each other in between the room,” left tackle D.J. Humphries said Friday. “I think it’s something that’s just making us better for sure.”
– Safety Chris Banjo will remain out this week after missing time last week due to injury, per Kingsbury.
– Chandler Jones and Markus Golden are expected to be back at some point this week.
– Tight end Maxx Williams was back at practice Monday after missing time due to an illness (non-COVID related).