From the moment they drafted Isaiah Simmons, the Cardinals always had a plan.
In an offseason shortened by COVID-19, coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph did not want to give the No. 8 overall pick too much responsibility too soon, despite his immense physical gifts.
Joseph acknowledged the setup hasn't been easy on the athletic inside linebacker, who has played irregularly in the first 10 weeks of the season while other first-round picks have shined.
But as the Cardinals prepare for a "Thursday Night Football" showdown with the Seahawks in Week 11, the shackles are about to come off.
"To his credit, he's been patient," Joseph said. "He's been frustrated, but he's been patient and waiting his turn, learning and working in practice. It's showing in the games. We've got to play him more, because he can help us win, and that's what we want from Isaiah.
"He's been patient enough to wait his turn, but it's time."
Simmons played consistently in Sunday's game against the Bills after a calf injury sidelined starting inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell. He held up well, finishing with four tackles, a tackle for loss and a near-sack to garner the second-highest Pro Football Focus grade on defense.
Campbell will be a game-day decision in Seattle, and if he does play, Simmons still figures to have a sizable role. If Campbell cannot go, Simmons will get his first taste of full-time duty in the NFL.
"We definitely feel Isaiah is in a place where he can play a ton of snaps, and start if need be," Kingsbury said. "We like the way he's progressing. We like the way we've brought him along. It's kind of happened organically where he feels more and more comfortable. The game has slowed down for him a lot. He's out there playing at a much higher level."
The Cardinals gave Simmons ample time to adjust in the earlygoing because he was not only getting used to NFL speed, but also the intricacies of inside linebacker after playing mostly safety in college.
Joseph said Simmons came back a different player after the bye week.
"The confidence has come out," Joseph said. "You watch him play now and he knows what to do. He's sure. Now you see the speed, the length. You see why Steve Keim drafted this guy in the top-10. Before that, you saw a guy who was uncertain and wasn't sure that he knew what to do, so he couldn't play fast."
Outside linebacker Haason Reddick has been a mentor to Simmons, as they have the shared experience of being first-round picks who didn't burst onto the NFL scene. Reddick was elated when Simmons excitedly came over to him after a key play against the Bills on Sunday.
"He looked at me and said, 'Haas, I can do this,'" Reddick said. "Right then and there, I knew he was confident in himself. I knew he still believed in himself."
PETERSON PREPARES FOR ROUND 3 AGAINST METCALF
Cornerback Patrick Peterson has held Seattle star receiver DK Metcalf to two catches for 23 yards combined in their two career meetings dating back to Week 16 of last year.
They will face off for a third time on Thursday, and the matchup could grow in significance even more if Seattle wideout Tyler Lockett – who had 200 yards receiving and three touchdowns in Week 7 against the Cardinals -- is limited by a knee sprain.
Peterson said he's found success because Metcalf is a good matchup for him.
"DK is much more of a bigger-bodied receiver," Peterson said. "To me, I love those matchups, because those are the type of guys that love to be physical, that's going to run straight down my line when I am in press. It's a little bit more difficult for those guys to dip their shoulders and get into a speed release.
"Those types of receivers play into my hands. But DK has been doing nothing but great things throughout his career. He's third in the league in receiving yards right now with 800-plus yards. He's just a tremendous talent, and I'll definitely have my hands full again. I've got to expect balls coming his way early and often."
PHILLIPS RULED OUT AGAINST SEAHAWKS
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (hamstring) will miss a second consecutive game on Thursday against the Seahawks. The Cardinals are going to be very thin on the line as Corey Peters (knee) is done for the year, while Zach Allen, Rashard Lawrence and Leki Fotu are on injured reserve. The active linemen will likely be Josh Mauro, Trevon Coley, Angelo Blackson and Michael Dogbe.
Guard Justin Murray (hand) has also been ruled out, while tight end Maxx Williams (ankle), safety Charles Washington (groin), tight end Darrell Daniels (ankle) and Campbell are questionable.
For the Seahawks, Lockett is limited as questionable but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told the Seattle media that he will play. Running back Chris Carson (foot) and guard/center Kyle Fuller (ankle) are also questionable.
Seattle has ruled out cornerback Shaquill Griffin (hamstring), cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee), cornerback Neiko Thorpe (core), center Ethan Pocic (concussion) and guard Jordan Simmons (calf). Running back Travis Homer (wrist/knee/thumb) is doubtful.
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during the Week 10 matchup against Buffalo at State Farm Stadium.