It's a tale of two wide receivers right now.
A.J. Green was back at practice this week fully for the first time Wednesday since he was sidelined with whatever "minor deal" he might have had, and it just turned out to be the one practice ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Louis Riddick – in town to televise Friday's Chiefs-Cards game nationally – was able to watch.
Riddick tweeted his thoughts, which was obviously that he was impressed by Green (which I was as well – when Green has been on the practice field, he has looked very good.) It sure feels like the only thing that could prevent Green from making an impact this season would be health, because when he plays he doesn't look like he's lost much.
On the flip side, we have Andy Isabella, who remains sidelined with Covid. He's not the only one – in the last couple of days, guard Justin Pugh and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips have also landed on the Covid list and both tweeted they are vaccinated yet still tested positive. More on that in a minute.
Isabella will miss the first two preseason games, games that frankly he could have used. Even if he comes back for the preseason finale, how well might he perform after missing so much time?
"We're going to see how it all plays out but it definitely doesn't help the development," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Didn't have a preseason last year. We would've liked for him to get to play in these games. Kyler said it, he's very smart, knows the system inside and out, can play inside, can play outside. As far as understanding what we are trying to accomplish, he won't miss much."
Indeed, Kyler Murray said he thinks Isabella will be "fine" even after missing so many reps. "But this is his third year," Murray added. "He knows everything in and out."
I think Isabella will make this team. Kingsbury likes him and has complimented his play when he has been on the field. We'll see. But whether it is Covid or whatever Green might've dealt with – Green did say last year he wishes he would sat a game or two because of a hamstring issue – the receiver room will be intriguing. Hopefully, ultimately, in a good way.
-- It's good that Isabella and Pugh and Phillips are going through this Covid stuff now, sure. But it just underscores that this issue isn't completely going away. Pugh tweeted at his union that he was upset that every player – and not just the unvaccinated ones – wasn't getting tested every day. I just think this this will continue to make everything fluid in terms of rules. What might be in place Week 1 of the regular season might not be the rules in Week 10. I also think it underscores the need for everyone to get vaccinated. Yes, as Pugh and Phillips have shown, you can get the virus even after the jab. But it is irrefutable that if everyone was vaccinated, there would simply be far fewer cases and, obviously, be harder to spread.
(I'm sure someone will have something to say in the comments. Have at it.)
-- It'll be fascinating to see how this game plays out. Andy Reid said he expects to play his starters about a half, although I will believe Patrick Mahomes will play two quarters when I see it. I'm not sure what the Cards will look like. I think Kyler Murray will take some snaps, but we already know Pugh is out. Hopefully there won't be any other close contacts. I don't expect Green to play, DeAndre Hopkins won't be out there, and on defense, those top five linemen are likely out.
-- Kingsbury does sound like a coach who will be cautious with his best players. Another shorthanded spot is outside linebacker, with Chandler Jones and Dennis Gardeck still down and I doubt Markus Golden plays either.
-- I do expect a little more Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons, and against this offense, that's a real test.
-- Byron Murphy, Robert Alford and Malcolm Butler are your top three cornerbacks, but Marco Wilson feels like he's made real strides. With Darqueze Dennard out much of camp, Wilson may just be No. 4 by the end of the preseason. That back end battle at cornerback/safety – and how many defensive backs they end up keeping – is one of the last things for which to watch.
-- Kingsbury said he doesn't really watch Hard Knocks. "I don't really watch that stuff," he said. "I did watch 'The White Lotus' on HBO. That's a good one. I don't watch Hard Knocks. I just watched it when (Rams coach and friend Sean) McVay was doing it to make fun of him."
-- We're gonna miss you, Big $$$.
See you Friday.