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Isaiah Simmons' Snap Decision, And Friday Before The Rams

Isaiah Simmons, said defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, "played his butt off" in Las Vegas.

Yes, it was only 15 snaps, but they made a difference. "I told him, 'It's not about how many plays you play. It's about how you play when you play," Joseph said.

The mystery of the Cardinals' 2020 first-round pick continues. It's possible he's out there for another 97 percent of the snaps when the Rams visit Sunday. You'd think the Cardinals will need the rangy linebacker with all the things the Rams do on offense. For his part, Simmons said he's looking forward to the game, not because he is seeking more reps this time around but just because it's a new game.

As for the old game, and those 15 snaps, "it's definitely frustrating not being out there," he said Friday.

"The NFL has really been my first time not being out there 100 percent of the time," Simmons said. "It's definitely difficult at times. But I am keeping in mind my opportunity is going to come and when I do get in there, make it evident I should be in there."

It can't be easy for a guy who has never been through this to go through this (or stand in front of cameras having to talk about it.) Both Joseph and Kliff Kingsbury have praised Simmons' practice work since the end of the Chiefs' game. What it means, no one on the outside can know for sure.

Ultimately, and I know I've said this multiple times (as have others), the Cardinals need both Simmons and Zaven Collins to play well. Joseph said Simmons' play time is based on the matchups as the Cardinals try and mix and match with their secondary still short-staffed.

Collins is learning too. He played 100 percent of the snaps against the Raiders, and now it feels like Simmons and Collins have simply swapped narratives from 2021. Fair or not, Simmons' snap count will be counted by all in the games going forward.

Is Simmons happy? Probably not. But he said the right things Friday, and he's right – all he can do is play hard (and well) when he is out there.

"I believe the coaches are trying to make the choices that are best for the team, and I'm going out there and show them I'm the best guy out there every time," Simmons said.

-- It's the Rams, again. They come in as Super Bowl champions this time, but that was unnecessary for the Cardinals to gird themselves. The playoff steamroller is long over, and while Budda Baker acknowledged it couldn't be completely forgotten, that's how the players still around from last year are approaching it. It feels somewhat simple. The Cardinals won the game Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp didn't go off, and it the two losses, those guys shined.

-- There's been a lot of talk about rookie tight end Trey McBride, being inactive the first week and playing just one offensive snap in Week 2, including the question of why he was drafted. A comment on the "Big Red Rage" on Thursday night might matter.

"After last year, with my knee injury and everything like that, I never knew if I was going to play football again," tight end Maxx Williams said.

Williams' return form a serious knee injury and the issues that came after has been a great story – "I would've been lost without football," Williams admitted – but if he wasn't sure if he was going to play football, it stands to reason the Cardinals might not have been sure either. Hence, McBride. Kingsbury did say he expects McBride's playing time to continue to go up as the season unfolds.

-- The Cardinals are still another week away from being able to bring back a bunch of guys off IR – QB Colt McCoy, WR Antoine Wesley, OL Cody Ford, S Charles Washington and CB Antonio Hamilton (who is technically on the Non-Football Injury list). But Kingsbury expressed hope the majority would be available at the first opportunity, which would be against the Eagles.

"We will have some tough decisions when those guys will be back, some roster gymnastics," Kingsbury said. "But a lot of those guys are starters or big-time contributors, so they'll be back for that Week 5 game."

Wide receiver Rondale Moore is also expected back by the Eagles game at the latest, although he's got a chance to play next week in Carolina.

-- The Cardinals have already had as many successful 2-point conversions this season (3) as they had total in Kliff Kingsbury's first three seasons.

-- James Conner is a game-day decision but even if he can't go, Darrel Williams looked really good in his sted. The veteran running back had a team-best 59 yards rushing and a touchdown on eight carries against the Raiders after not getting an offensive snap against the Chiefs.

"You appreciate that, the selfless nature of that," Kingsbury said. "Last year he had 1,000 yards (from scrimmage) for the Kansas City Chiefs, one of the best teams in the league. He knows how good he is, and so do we. That's what sold me on it, when Patrick (Mahomes) said 'I really love when he is out on the field with me.' You saw why."

-- Not sure there is any rhyme or reason, but the Cardinals are tied with the Broncos for the most overtime wins in NFL history (28). The Cardinals also have a 28-16-4 (.625) all-time overtime record, which is the best OT winning percentage in NFL history.

-- Penalties were a problem last week. The Cardinals ended up with 12 penalties for 120 yards – yikes – and that isn't going to work if they want a chance against the Rams.

-- The last word comes from Kingsbury, who was asked about how he frequently places the blame on himself if he really feels that way or if he's trying to shield his team.

"Most of the time I do (think it is me)," Kingsbury said. "When you have a quarterback like we have and has that type of athleticism and skillset and the receivers and everyone we have, I feel like if we are coaching it right and calling the right plays and putting them in the position to be successful, so if you are a competitor, you'll take that to heart."

Kingsbury is able to move on when he screws up. But "I'm pretty critical of myself" and he said it's important to show the players the coaches' mistakes as much as the players' own errors.

"I'll show them a play I made a bad call on or the two-point play that I got in late, that's what happened and it's on me," Kingsbury said. "They have to know we're all in this together."

See you Sunday.

LB Isaiah Simmons
LB Isaiah Simmons

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