EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Isaiah Simmons isn't heading back to Arizona looking to get even with the Cardinals after they drafted him eighth overall in 2020 and then moved on before the start of this season.
The 25-year-old Simmons still has good friends and former teammates in Arizona and he feels the Cardinals treated him well in his four seasons with them. They were the team that first allowed him to live his dream of playing in the NFL.
While he made a lot of tackles for Arizona, more than 200 over the past two seasons, the former Clemson star never found a position. He played linebacker, safety and slot cornerback. They wanted him to be a linebacker and he saw himself as a hybrid player.
Since being traded to New York on Aug. 24, Simmons has impressed defensive coordinator Wink Martindale with his speed. He was on the field for 15 plays on defense as well as special teams in the 40-0 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
“He’s fitting in. He’s fitting in,” Martindale said Thursday, noting Simmons will get more action Sunday. “He’s just going to keep getting better and better.”
The Giants have listed Simmons as a linebacker and safety. He considers himself a playmaker, no matter where he lines up, He also insists he knows the playbook and understands his role.
“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.”
This won't be Simmons' first trip back to Arizona since the trade, one that cost the Giants a seventh-round draft pick in 2024. He went back on Labor Day weekend to pack some things in his house and bring his two dogs to New Jersey.
Simmons, who had four sacks last season, may stop by the house again after the game. The Giants are staying in Arizona on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for a Thursday night game in California against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
He laughed when asked if he would have dinner with any of his former teammates before Sunday's game. There is a better chance he might see them Monday or Tuesday.
Simmons said he appreciates what the Giants have done for him. He was brought in late after missing most of the training camp and he said the coaches and players made him feel welcome.
“I just feel like, this is a place where I was kind of meant to be,” Simmons said. “I just feel like I knew I was going to fit in, but I didn’t necessarily know I was going to fit in this well. You know, I fit in well with all the guys. I think I fit in really well in the system.”
Simmons is carrying over some of his past to the Giants. He is wearing No 19. The No. 1 was from his days at Clemson. The No. 9 was his number with the Cardinals.
NOTES: Left tackle Andrew Robinson was limited at practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard was given a veteran's rest day. PK Graham Gano should be good to go after being hit in the calf and having swelling in his ankle, special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said. McGaughey refused to disclose what happened on the blocked field-goal attempt on the opening series that was returned for a touchdown.
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Tom Canavan, The Associated Press