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Isaiah Simmons ready to be a playmaker on Giants’ defense

Simmons played his first snaps in blue against the Jets

Syndication: The Record
Isaiah Simmons

On Thursday morning, August 24, the New York Giants traded a seventh-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for versatile tweener Isaiah Simmons. On Saturday, August 26, fewer than 60 hours later, he donned the blue uniform for his first Giants action in the preseason finale against the New York Jets.

“It was exciting. Just to be able to get out there in new threads, it felt really good,” Simmons said after the game. “It felt amazing out in the new environment with Giants fans, it was just amazing. As I’ve seen playing here, previously. It felt really good. When they came to me and said to me, ‘How do you feel about playing?’ I said, ‘Let’s go. I’m ready to go.’ I just appreciate them for giving me the opportunity.”

On nearly sacking Aaron Rodgers

Of course, Simmons didn’t see that much action, and his name did not show up in the box score at all. Still, he quickly showed his tantalizing fit in the Giants’ defense, knifing through a block from a running back and forcing Aaron Rodgers to run for his life.

“Oh, I wanted that. I wanted that sack. I definitely did, but it’s okay we’ll see him again,” Simmons answered when asked if he was annoyed that Rodgers slipped away. “I didn’t really think I had it until the play was over. I feel like I should have, just for myself, but it happens.”

Simmons played only six snaps, but those snaps hinted at what he can do for the Giants.

“I don’t really care if it’s a preseason game or if this is Week 16, I treat everything the same,” he said. “I’m not really too worried about the fact that this is a preseason game, because I’m not going to go out there and give like 80 percent. That kind of stuff doesn’t really go in as a factor for me.”

On playing for Wink Martindale

Just as Giants fans are psyched to see what Simmons can do in Wink Martindale’s positionless defense, Simmons trusts his new defensive coordinator to utilize him properly. What Martindale told him for his first game action? “The only rule they gave me was run to the ball, and I said, ‘Well, that’s an easy rule.’ I have no issue with that.”

Simmons explained that he’s still getting familiar with the system, but Martindale told Simmons that he’s going to give the Swiss Army knife various responsibilities. He is confident that he’ll be up to speed by Week 1 when the Giants take the field against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. He wasn’t overly concerned about cramming the playbook, stating that he’s dug into it already to get a head start and it’s not that much out of the ordinary.

Simmons was asked whether he has concerns about playing linebacker with the Giants when he had previously said he preferred safety. He responded that because he’s with Martindale, he has no concerns that he’ll be used improperly. He stated that he trusts his new defensive coordinator to put him in the best position. He added that he’s here to do anything to help the team.

“I don’t really have too many discomforts on the field, just because I’ve spent so much time in various different places,” he said. “I’m comfortable rushing the passer just like I’m comfortable playing half-field or safety. At the end of the day, it’s all just a position and a responsibility.”

On his strengths

Simmons identified his playmaking ability as his biggest strength. That is what excited Giants fans can expect from him:

“I would say somebody who is here to make plays for the team and help the defense take whatever the next step it is that we need to take,” Simmons said. “Honestly, really that’s it. Just plays to be made, and they are going to be made. I would say that’s what they should expect the most, big plays.”

On his reaction to getting traded

Simmons said he was definitely a little surprised about the trade. However, it didn’t put a chip on his shoulder. “I don’t have anything to prove. I play for an audience of one and that’s the man upstairs. So, I don’t really have much to prove to anybody.”

Pressed about whether being traded is motivation for him, Simmons merely replied, “I just think the Giants got a good deal. We’ll see if it was worth the seventh [round pick or not.”

On working with his new teammates

Simmons expressed his appreciation for the way his teammates have welcomed him to New York. “Everybody’s welcomed me in with open arms just like I’ve been here from the jump. I appreciate all of them for that. That says a lot about the culture here and just what type of team this is. I appreciate all the guys just bringing me in, welcoming me in.”

A familiar face awaited Simmons inside the Giants’ locker room: his former Clemson teammate, Dexter Lawrence. According to Simmons, Lawrence hasn’t given him much advice, but he’s told him how much he’s going to love it with the Giants. Simmons called Lawrence “Another person I really trust, one of my good friends from way back when” and said he’s looking forward to getting going.

On joining Saquon Barkley

Simmons trained with Saquon Barkley this offseason and now joins him in New York. He grinned when asked about Barkley. “He talks a lot of (trash) if nobody knows. He’s probably the most competitive person I’ve ever met in my whole life – with everything,” Simmons declared. “He’s been telling me Week Two, Week Two, Week Two (when the Giants face the Cardinals), like ah, but now we’re going to be together Week Two, and actually, every single game we’re going to be together. He got a little lucky.”

Acquiring Simmons was a low-risk move that could potentially pay tremendous dividends for the Giants. At the bare minimum, he is an upgrade over the likes of Jaylon Smith, Landon Collins, and Tony Jefferson. If there is anyone who can get the most out of the ultra-athletic but raw Simmons, it is Wink Martindale—and the newest Giant knows it.