Cardinals LB Isaiah Simmons’ snap count sees serious jump vs. Panthers

Oct 3, 2022, 4:23 PM

Ian Thomas #80 of the Carolina Panthers is tackled by Isaiah Simmons #9 of the Arizona Cardinals du...

Ian Thomas #80 of the Carolina Panthers is tackled by Isaiah Simmons #9 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium on October 02, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals got back to .500 in Charlotte behind a 26-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

The defense shined throughout the matchup behind three takeaways, two sacks and eight passes defensed.

And even with another sputtering offensive performance in the first half, the unit righted the ship in the second thanks to a trio of scores from quarterback Kyler Murray and a strong effort from the rushing attack.

It was a near-full team effort from Arizona, with 47 players seeing their number called at some point or another over the course of the victory.

A look at the snap counts that stood out in Week 4:

Arizona Cardinals Week 4 snap counts

Isaiah Simmons: 43 defensive snaps (83%)

Simmons saw a season-high in snaps on Sunday after combining for just 31 over the past two weeks. Week 1 was the only matchup Simmons recorded more reps (61) in 2022.

Week 4 marked the star backer’s second start of the season.

“He’s earned it,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. “That’s three weeks in a row he’s made big strides and that’s what we asked him to do, practice and games. But we want him to keep coming.

“That’s a credit to him and his response to really the challenge of ‘Hey, each and every day, each and every game, each rep, let’s get better and strain and been really impressed with how he’s responded.”

DL J.J. Watt: 41 defensive snaps (79%)

After going into atrial fibrillation on Wednesday and getting his heart shocked back into rhythm the following day, Watt played the highest percentage of snaps in a single game for the lineman this season.

Watt was a big part of the defense’s stellar outing, with he and Zach Allen combining for five pass deflections, nine tackles and two QB hits.

WR Rondale Moore: 65 offensive snaps (86%)

Moore saw little to no limitations in his 2022 debut on Sunday. It’s a good sign for the wide receiver, who dealt with hamstring issues since training camp.

Moore finished the afternoon with three catches on five targets for 11 yards. His longest catch of the day was seven yards as he did most of his work near or behind the line of scrimmage.

RB Eno Benjamin: 11 offensive snaps (14%), five special teams snaps (22%)

Benjamin made the most of his 16 reps on Sunday, racking up 36 yards on five carries (7.2 yards per attempt) and adding another nine yards on one catch.

He didn’t stop there, either, with Benjamin manning kickoff duties with kicker Matt Prater dealing with a hip issue.

Benjamin recorded three kicks in the fourth quarter, averaging 52.6 yards per kick.

He also returned a pair of kicks for 43 yards.

OLB Dennis Gardeck: 20 defensive snaps (38%)

Much like Benjamin, Gardeck turned in a strong performance despite seeing fewer than 40% of available defensive snaps.

When the dust settled on the matchup, Gardeck had recorded a sack, an interception, a QB hit and a pass deflection.

WR Greg Dortch: 27 offensive snaps (36%)

The return of Moore meant someone was bound to lose reps. That someone was Dortch, who turned in a season-low in the snap count department. Before Week 4, Dortch’s lowest snap count was 71% in Week 2.

Despite the decrease, Dortch still sits second in receiving yards (204) among Cardinals pass catchers and is third on the team in receptions (21).

TE Trey McBride: 32 offensive snaps (42%)

McBride has slowly but surely earned more playing as the season has progressed. He went from inactive in Week 1 to one offensive snap in Week 2 to five in Week 3 and now 32 (and a start to boot) in Week 4.

He recorded three catches for 24 yards in the win.

It’s been a steady progression for the 2022 second-round pick as he finds his NFL footing.

“He’s gotten better and better,” Kingsbury said Monday. “Same deal (as Simmons), we just challenged him to be focused and locked in every single day and take advantage of the reps he did get and he’s done that. He earned those reps.”

Trayvon Mullen: 18 defensive snaps (35%)

For the first time since being traded to the Cardinals this offseason, Mullen was on the field with the defense.

It marked the cornerback’s second game with the team after dealing with a toe issue stemming from last season early on in 2022.

He finished with a pair of tackles and was also used on special teams.

His usage will be something to watch over the next few weeks after starting cornerback Antonio Hamilton was designated to return from the injured reserve on Monday.

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