The transition from college to the NFL is hard, and rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons is learning this right now. His teammate, Haason Reddick, has some advice.
“I did actually talk to Isaiah with everything that’s going on,” Reddick said Tuesday. “Same thing, very similar to what I went through. And I just told him to keep his head up and don’t let the outside noise get to him.”
When Reddick talks to Simmons, he’s coming from a place of empathy. The 13th-overall pick in the 2017 draft, Reddick had a rocky start to his NFL career. Now, he’s playing outside linebacker again, which he finds most natural. He had 11 tackles and a sack, which came in overtime, in Sunday’s win over the Seahawks.
His five sacks lead the team, and in just seven games, he’s already surpassed his previous career-best of four, set in 2018.
So he knows what Simmons, a first-round draft pick, is going through. And he knows better days can come.
Simmons showed a flash of that Sunday. His role has been limited on defense, but he made the most of his five defensive snaps against Seattle. The rookie intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in overtime, which led to the Cardinals’ 37-34 victory.
“I told him to keep his head up and keep working, and when the opportunity comes, like on Sunday, be ready. And here he is,” Reddick said. “People are talking about, ‘Oh, he’s not getting enough reps and this and that. But he comes in playing however many plays he played Sunday and makes a game-winning clutch pick to set our offense up to go and score.”
Coach Kliff Kingsbury has emphasized throughout the year that the fractured offseason made things especially hard on rookies. He noted at one point that as far as positions, he thinks quarterbacks and linebackers face the biggest challenge of arriving in the league with substantially less reps.
“I couldn’t be happier for Isaiah,” Kingsbury said Sunday after the game. “You saw tonight, the ability he has, and to make that play in that situation was huge and will do wonders for him moving forward.”
Cardinals prepare to vote
While the Cardinals have a bye this weekend, their stadium will still see some weekend traffic. State Farm Stadium will serve as a ballot drop off location from Saturday, Oct. 31 through Tuesday, Nov. 3 for registered voters in Maricopa County.
A week out from the 2020 election, Cardinals players have been making sure they do what they need to vote. For offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, the right to vote has always been something he’s valued.
“My first opportunity that I had to vote, I voted,” Humphries said Tuesday.