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As Ravens Down Cardinals, Andy Isabella Still Fighting 

Baltimore extends preseason win streak to 22 in 24-17 Arizona defeat

Wide receiver Andy Isabella runs upfield after the catch during the Cardinals' loss to the Ravens Sunday night.
Wide receiver Andy Isabella runs upfield after the catch during the Cardinals' loss to the Ravens Sunday night.

The streak is now 22 straight preseason wins for the Baltimore Ravens, although the Cardinals really don't care.

The result of Sunday night's nationally televised 24-17 loss at State Farm Stadium means precious little, given who did not play for the Cardinals – and who did.

Andy Isabella – remember him? – was out there.

He made five catches for 54 yards, drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty and has turned into the de facto No. 1 wide receiver in the preseason. The 2019 second-round pick never has been able to carve out a role in the regular season, and now, entering the last year of his contract, he is fighting to make the team.

And he's never been in a better place since arriving in the NFL.

"When I came as a rookie, I was just a kid," Isabella said. "There are a lot of things I wish I knew then I know now. I think as a man I've grown ten-fold, and I think you grow in your struggles. As a man I've really grown and matured, and it might be too late here, but I know in the future -- might not be football but something (else) -- the lessons I've learned here playing will take me a long way in life.

"I'm very happy and thankful for my struggles and ups and downs. This is the best football I've been playing. I have complete confidence I can play out there. I have no worries at all. Whatever happens, I'm excited for the future."

DeAndre Hopkins' looming suspension might require the Cardinals hanging on to Isabella, but with Hopkins, Hollywood Brown, Rondale Moore, A.J. Green and Antoine Wesley, there isn't much room for other receivers.

Greg Dortch has played excellent football in camp too, battling for that other spot – if it exists.

"I couldn't be more impressed with how he's attacked this camp," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "He came in and hasn't missed one day, runs every route as hard as you can go, takes as many reps as he can and has really produced at a high level this camp. I'm excited to see that hard work pay off for him."

The game itself wasn't pretty for the backups in the lineup. Lamar Jackson, like Kyler Murray, did not play. But there's no way he could have played better than Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, who threw 14 passes in his two quarters of play and completed 13 of them, for 129 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinals may not have had many defensive starters in – only linebacker Zaven Collins played out of the anticipated starting lineup, and he was done after a couple of series – but Kingsbury acknowledged he would've preferred to see better tackling.

Cardinals third-string quarterback Trace McSorley, again getting the start with Murray and Colt McCoy not playing, struggled against his former team. He threw two interceptions and was flustered much of the game by the Baltimore defense. But McSorley did engineer a TD drive in the fourth quarter, with the plays called by his teammate, Murray.

"There were some times when I passed up (No.) 1 or (No.) 2 in the progression, trying to get something a little farther down the field or trying to make something happen," McSorley said. "I'll go back and watch the tape. I'll judge myself harder than anyone."

McSorley won't be judged harder than Isabella has been in his three years, his draft status of being picked before DK Metcalf and overall struggles weighing heavily.

At the end of July, Isabella posted on Instagram a message how he had "done a lot of looking in the mirror this last year" and figuring out who he was as a person.

"There are a lot of things I had to get better at and focus at," Isabella said Sunday night. "I'm thankful for that. I grew a lot from my struggles. Everything happens for you and not to you. Even though it might've been a theme I was a disappointment on the outside, I'm very thankful for that. I feel I can make a huge impact every Sunday, wherever it's at."

It could still be as a Cardinal, but it might not. Final cuts are 10 days away, but Isabella has had arguably his best camp since being drafted. It just happens to be for a receivers room that is loaded.

"They stacked the odds against me, but that doesn't faze me," Isabella said. "I'm going to show up every day and do what I have to do. They can do whatever they want, they ain't going to break me."