Andy Isabella's 88-yard catch-and-run touchdown last week against the 49ers was electric and impactful, giving the Cardinals a chance to upset undefeated San Francisco.
What it was not was a switch that suddenly flipped on an avalanche of upcoming playing time for the rookie wide receiver.
"Not really," coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. "We know he has explosive capability. We want him to continue to learn, continue to get better. We have a plan for him, and he’s on pace for where we want him to be."
The Cardinals are trying to bring along both Isabella and fellow rookie KeeSean Johnson, and it was interesting to see both active last week with veteran Damiere Byrd the receiver who was inactive. Isabella's work has been limited through nine games -- the TD catch was just his third reception. And while he technically has as many targets (3) as rushing attempts (16 yards on three jet sweeps), one of his targets/catches was really just a jet sweep motion in which QB Kyler Murray, in the shotgun, quick-tossed it to Isabella as he flew by -- basically a run play called a pass because of how Murray delivered it.
Those type of plays are going to remain as part of how the Cards deploy Isabella anyway. But eventually they'd like to throw him more passes beyond the line of scrimmage. His snap count varies -- Isabella played 10 offensive snaps against the 49ers, one against the Saints, 10 against the Giants, and 12 against the Falcons.
Kingsbury was asked about why Isabella seemed to have a knack for coming up with big plays.
"Because he can run a 4.3," Kingsbury deadpanned. "Tends to happen."
And that's why the Cardinals liked him enough in the draft -- to be able to make that happen on the NFL level. The Cardinals are still trying to figure out how all their receivers fit, right now and as Kingsbury learns to make adjustments to his offense on this level. The Cards still seem top-heavy in pass catchers that seem to work better in the slot -- Isabella, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald and even running back David Johnson -- but the evolution for Isabella is ongoing. Like a lot of things with the Cardinals this season, laying the foundation for beyond 2019 is the biggest goal.
"Obviously it’s a big step up in competition in how we do things, how we practice and how we work," Kingsbury said. "He’s game for all of it. It just takes time. You saw his explosiveness the other night. Hopefully we can build off that."