Through two games, rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons has played just 25 snaps on defense -- seven last week -- in part because the Cardinals do have veterans who are doing the job ahead of him on the depth chart. But GM Steve Keim knows the Cards must walk a fine line when it comes to the No. 8 overall pick in the draft.
"We are fortunate enough to limit the snaps to some degree, but the only way for him to get better is to get out there and see things," Keim said Friday during an appearance on the "Doug and Wolf" show on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. "Love his attitude, works his tail off, he's in there studying film with Billy Davis and Vance Joseph. I feel like his future is certainly bright."
Among some of the other things Keim spoke about Friday:
-- Keim said he expects tight end Maxx Williams, on IR with a bad ankle, to return "some point in the middle of the season." Williams had to be out at least three weeks after his IR designation.
-- The GM is happy with the play of veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who wasn't signed until Robert Alford suffered his season-ending pectoral injury. "We were extremely fortunate to be able to pull that off so late in the process," Keim said. Kirkpatrick's history with DC Vance Joseph has helped Kirkpatrick learn quickly what he needed to do.
-- His big praise of Kyler Murray has been his competitiveness and love of the game, which has been evident since they studied him coming into the draft. Players can grow their game, but loving the game and wanting to compete is inherent. "If they don't bite when they are puppies, they aren't going to bite," Keim said. "I think that's true when it comes to competitiveness."
-- How does Keim think the Cardinals don't get to full of themselves after a 2-0 start? It probably isn't that hard, in looking what needs to be better -- especially with the need to cut down on penalties. The Cardinals have the second-most penalties in the league (20, Jacksonville has 22) and the second-most penalty yards (199, the Saints have 248.)
-- Keim said he thinks the Cardinals' special teams units have been a strength, praising coach Jeff Rodgers and noting that the coverage teams have been "exceptional."
-- His biggest concern? Staying healthy. "We have stayed relatively healthy, but as you have seen early on, for whatever reason, and I can't put my finger on it, a number of teams have lost top players," Keim said. "There are certain players that, let's be honest, are not replaceable. The next man up is a real thing, but at the same time, there are game-changers that are awfully difficult to replace. Unfortunately, Deacon Jones and Brian Urlacher and all those great players that have played the game, are not sitting out, just hanging out waiting to be signed."
-- After his first two games following Mason Cole's injury, Keim said second-year center Lamont Gaillard has been very good, giving him props with his mental toughness, physical toughness and awareness, the latter of which is important for a center. With Cole still dealing with a hamstring problem, Gaillard figures to play again Sunday.
-- Keim said the coronavirus and the pandemic has made things more difficult, but as a person who is a "creature of habit," he said it's taken him out of his comfort zone and he's used it as a positive and used it to grow and develop.
"I think it's made us all better as an organization," Keim said.