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Cardinals Ready To See Isaiah Simmons Again When Giants Visit

Notes: Wallace carves out role quickly at safety; Pascal physical on special teams

Safety Budda Baker talks with then-teammate Isaiah Simmons in an August preseason game.
Safety Budda Baker talks with then-teammate Isaiah Simmons in an August preseason game.

A month hasn't even passed since Isaiah Simmons donned a Cardinals uniform, and now his former team will see him Sunday when the New York Giants come to Arizona for the Cardinals' home opener.

"That's little bro, of course," safety Budda Baker said. "He's not really a teammate of ours this week so it won't be much of anything until after the game. Love 'em, but at the end of the day he's a Giant and that's who we are going against. There won't be many words until after the game."

The Cardinals traded their 2020 first-round pick to the Giants in late August, while the team was practicing in Minnesota prior to their final preseason game. The Cards received a seventh-round pick in return.

Replacing him in the Arizona lineup was safety K'Von Wallace, who was acquired on waivers just a week later and then played 50 snaps against Washington alongside Baker and Jalen Thompson.

Simmons, now wearing No. 19 for the Giants since kicker Graham Gano has the No. 9, played just 15 defensive snaps in his opener against the Cowboy. He has already become a core special teamer with another 15 snaps in the transition game.

The Giants are using Simmons as a linebacker, either as a blitzing pass rusher or as a cover man on the tight end. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said Thursday "I think his role is going to expand, because he's that good of a player."

Simmons told New York reporters he doesn't want to see Sunday as any kind of revenge game.

"I'm not an emotionless person so I'm sure there will be some emotions flowing through me but nothing that's going to affect me and make me do anything crazy," Simmons said. "I'm not a person to go out there and be like, 'rah, rah, rah,' so I'm not going to go out there doing that or try to make an extra play because then that's when you end up hurting yourself in the long run."


Simmons didn't work out at safety for the Cardinals, but defensive coordinator Nick Rallis was hoping to use safety Jalen Thompson at nickel extensively if possible. So it worked out well when the team was able to claim Wallace, a former Eagle.

"We knew with the familiarity with K'Von he was eventually going to play a big role," Rallis said. "He did a great job of getting here and getting caught up to speed fast."

Wallace called the process "crazy" but acknowledged his history with Rallis and Jonathan Gannon in Philadelphia was crucial.

"That's a fact," Wallace said. "It blended perfectly. I knew 60, 70 percent of the playbook already. Knowing the type of personnel JG runs and Nick likes to have and familiarity with the defense helps. A lot of the way we communicated remained the same, and I just wanted to be a piece to the defense. Came here trying to multiply, not divide. That's all."


Veteran wide receiver Zach Pascal is hoping to make an impact on offense but his ability on special teams makes him doubly valuable. Add in his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, and Pascal is something most wideouts are not on special teams – a wrecking ball when he hits, like he did on a particular play in Washington.

"Rare is probably not the right word but I would say it's uncommon," special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. "There are plenty of wideouts I have worked with that are good teams players. What differentiates Zach from those guys is that he is a bigger body type so he is involved in punt protection, an inside guy in kickoff coverage."

Pascal said he did play a little bit of cornerback in high school, but his mentality on special teams is simple – "I'm a football player."

"Whether that is lining up at wide receiver or lining up on special teams, I'm a football player," he said. "That's where I come from, that's how I play energy-wise. It's just natural for me."

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