Andy Isabella knew training camp and preseason games were important for him this year, so when he initially lost a few days of practice early on as a close contact of someone who tested positive, it wasn't welcome.
When he lost two weeks of practice and the chance to play in the first two preseason games because he got Covid himself, it was bad.
And when he lost the chance to play in the final preseason game when it was cancelled, it was frustrating.
"I worked so hard this offseason, so missing so much time, it's like, 'Damn,' " the third-year wide receiver said Wednesday. "You have to get your mind there and fight it."
There was much speculation what might happen to the 2019 second-round pick heading into final cuts. But, Isabella acknowledged, "I wasn't worried about not being here," and realistically, he remains fifth on the depth chart in a six-man room.
But, Isabella admitted, "it sucks being in the position I'm in, I have to really fight to get put on the field now. I'm all the way behind. It's frustrating. But I'm doing what I can."
Isabella's brief career has been disappointing. He finished last season inactive in the final four games of the season, totaling 30 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons. The Cardinals spent another second-round pick on a similarly sized receiver in Rondale Moore, who has already climbed into the top four with DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury has constantly mentioned Isabella's work ethic and skillset, saying that Isabella's speed is a big reason to keep him on the team, as is his ability as both a potential return man or gunner on special teams (a reason he got the nod over KeeSean Johnson.)
"There is a lot of versatility there for that slot he is in," Kingsbury said. "It makes a lot of sense for us."
Kingsbury added there are scenarios where both Isabella and Moore could be on the field at the same time offensively.
Isabella has to be on the field for that to happen, however, and availability was an issue in camp. While he only felt the effects of Covid for a couple of days – the sore throat and body aches he thought at first was because of five straight days of practice -- missing the first two preseason games crushed his chances to make any kind of depth chart move.
"You can practice as much as you want but it's the games that matter," Isabella said.
The next game is Sept. 12 in Tennessee. As it stands now, Isabella will be available – assuming nothing crazy happens yet again.
"Right now I just need to fight to get on the field," Isabella said. "That's my main concern. Can't do much sitting on the sideline."
Images from Wednesday practice in Tempe.