Andy Isabella among Cardinals to end preseason on high note vs. Titans
Andy Isabella’s time in an Arizona Cardinals uniform has been anything but smooth.
Joining the franchise as a 2019 second-round pick, the pressure was on the wideout from the jump. The constant comparisons to Seattle Seahawks No. 1 wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who was taken after Isabella, say all you need to know.
Unfair or not, Isabella has been a far cry from what many envisioned the speedster being in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, getting to the point where he was reportedly given permission to seek a trade this offseason.
That didn’t stop the wide receiver from putting his best foot forward, as evident with his performance over training camp and three preseason games. If there were any questions regarding his spot on the 53-man roster, he answered them this offseason.
“I think I was overlooked. I think they turned their back on me but I overcame again,” Isabella told Cardinals sideline reporter Paul Calvisi postgame. “I think that’s the way I operate best. I’ve been overlooked my whole life. … That motivates me. I know my purpose that God gave me is to inspire these kids that look up to me and my family. So when I go out there I really remember that and that’s what motivates me to go hard every play. Even when I’m tired, even when I don’t want to show up, I know I have a greater purpose.”
Isabella either led Arizona’s pass catchers or was second on the team across the Cardinals’ 1-2 preseason mark. He also drew a handful of defensive pass interference calls to move the chains.
But it was the Cardinals’ 26-23 loss over the Tennessee Titans that was Isabella’s finest moment this offseason.
Reeling in five of his eight targets for 115 yards, Isabella dismantled Tennessee’s secondary.
Isabella saw his number called from the jump, racking up 32 yards on three catches in the team’s opening drive. He nearly capped off the possession with a touchdown but was ruled down a yard short of the end zone.
It wouldn’t be the last time Isabella nearly found pay dirt.
Facing a second-and-11, Jarrett Guarantano fired one to Isabella. The wide receiver did the rest, making a move and shooting up the field for the 74-yard catch and run. But before Isabella could cross pay dirt, he was tracked down at the Titans’ one-yard line.
ANDY ISABELLA IS SPEED 💨@AndyIsabella5 x #BirdCityFootball pic.twitter.com/eSHsjrcv6r
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 28, 2022
And while Isabella may not have been the one to score, Arizona didn’t let his efforts go to waste, capping off both drives with touchdowns.
Isabella’s future in Arizona is up in the air at best. But putting together performances like Saturday night can go a long way in seeing more reps come his way, whether that’s in the desert or elsewhere.
“I want to play so whoever is going to play me I hope that’s where I go,” Isabella told Calvisi. “This year, if they’re going to give me reps, I’m happy to be here and happy to make plays and happy to make an impact for this team. I hope that’s the case. I love Arizona and we’re going to see what happens.”
The wide receiver wasn’t the only Cardinal to make the most of Saturday night’s preseason finale, either.
Collins has been under the microscope this offseason and rightfully so.
Entering camp as the projected starter, Collins struggled to find the consistency many expected to see from the second-year pro.
Then came his preseason resume.
Pegged as one of the only projected starters to play in every exhibition this year, the linebacker was for the most part up and down.
Saturday’s action against the Titans was arguably his best showing. He didn’t see as much action as a guy like Isabella but made his presence felt with a pair of tackles.
“It’ll be a work in progress just going into his second year but he’s gotten better and better,” Kingsbury told Calvisi postgame. “The read and react is by far where I’ve seen the biggest improvement.
“Last year, I thought it was ‘Wait and let it come to you’ and now he’s seeing things, he’s just triggering and he’s going to tackle the ball. We know he’s got the physical traits to be a special player in this league and he’s just got to continue to get the reps and put in the work.”
Thomas put together his best game as a Cardinal this preseason behind a pair of sacks.
CAM THOMAS 💪 pic.twitter.com/tdujnUNCkx
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 27, 2022
“It seems to slow down for him every practice,” Kingsbury told Calvisi. “I thought this was a culmination of that. From Day 1 to now, he’s really cutting it loose and playing fast and letting his physical traits take over. You saw that tonight. He’s a relentless player, works his tail off and I was excited to see him get the results tonight.”
It’s a great sign for a position that is murky at best opposite Markus Golden.
“Every day I go out there and give it my all,” Thomas told Calvisi. “Obviously, all the young guys knew this was going to be the last one and whatever we put on tape today was very important. Everybody went out there and gave it their all.”
Ingram made it that much harder for Arizona decision makers to leave him off the 53-man roster on Saturday.
Recording 61 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts, the rookie served as the team’s primary rusher. Ingram also added a catch for eight yards in the loss.
Aside from Isabella, Dortch has been Arizona’s most consistent weapon this offseason.
He continued that trend on Saturday night with six catches (12 targets) for 64 yards and a touchdown. Only Isabella recorded more yards among Cardinals pass catchers.
Among Arizona’s wideouts, Dortch has taken the most noticeable step forward and already had a handle on a roster spot before his latest performance.
Many have waited for Benjamin to show off what Kingsbury has been raving about this offseason.
On Saturday, he was able to give everyone a sneak peek.
While he only saw three carries in the running game, Benjamin provided a wow moment as a pass catcher in the first quarter with a leaping 20-yard catch.
For a player that will likely see added reps in the receiving game as the team looks for an RB2 behind starter James Conner, those types of catches certainly stand out.
Trace McSorley and Jarrett Guarantano
McSorley was quick with the trigger to kick off Saturday’s matchup, going 7-for-7 in the team’s opening drive that ended with a touchdown. He finished with 144 yards on 15-of-29 passing.
And when McSorley handed over the reins, Guarantano kept the pressure on Tennessee’s secondary. Completing seven of his 14 passes on the evening, Guarantano recorded 141 yards and a touchdown.