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‘No old-school T.O.’ for Giants’ Isaiah Simmons, but hopefully an impact vs. Cardinals

Giants expect Simmons’ role to expand

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Isaiah Simmons (19) rushes vs. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in Week 1.
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Isaiah Simmons of the New York Giants holds no animosity towards his former employer, the Arizona Cardinals. So, when the Giants play the Cardinals Sunday in Glendale, Az., there won’t be any stomping on the Cardinals’ logo or other demonstrable show of emotion.

“No old-school T.O. (Terrell Owens),” Simmons said with a laugh while chatting with media in the Giants’ locker room on Thursday.

“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. 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.”

The Giants acquired Simmons, the No. 8, overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, from the rebuilding Cardinals during the preseason for a seventh-round pick.

“The main goal is just to win the game and beat whoever’s across from us and this week it just so happens to be Arizona,” Simmons said. “I’m not letting any external factors come in the way of what my responsibility is going to be out there on Sunday because ultimately, I feel like that’s going to do nothing but just limit my production and how I play out there. Like I said, not letting any external factors of like revenge or anything like that come in the way of the game.”

The versatile Simmons, who played significant snaps at five different positions for Arizona, wasn’t bad with the Cardinals. He did not, though, play to the level expected of the eighth pick in the draft.

The Giants hope that Simmons’ versatility and athleticism will translate into play-making, especially as a pass rusher.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was thrilled when the Giants added the 25-year-old Simmons.

“I think he fits perfectly,” Martindale said. “I think he’s perfect for this defense ... It’s not what position are you going to play him at, we are going to play him wherever you need him because he can do so many different things. I’ve talked before about a positionless defense, he fits perfect to that.”

Simmons played 15 snaps against the Dallas Cowboys, eight as an edge defender, four as an inside linebacker and three as a slot cornerback. He had one tackle.

Martindale said this week that Simmons is “just going to keep getting better and better.”

“I think his role is going to expand, because he’s that good of a player and he’s just learning the package,” Martindale said. “What is this, the third week he’s been here? It’s just going to keep expanding. Like I said, he’s a positionless player, which is a compliment to him. We can move him around and play him in different spots. Through attrition, there’s going to be different spots that are open and each week, you put him in the best spot that you need him in to help us in.”

Some of that attrition already appears to be occurring. Edge defender Azeez Ojulari, one of the Giants’ best pass rushers, is doubtful with a hamstring injury suffered Wednesday at practice. Simmons figures to see an increased number of pass rush snaps — he had only six vs. Dallas — with Ojulari almost certainly sidelined.

“I expect it [his role] to [increase],” Simmons said. “Is it, though? I’m not sure. I just control what I can control. I mean, I would assume that it is going to increase some.”

Simmons said he feels “really comfortable” with the defensive scheme and believes he can “go execute everything” in the playbook.”

Simmons has said since he arrived in New Jersey that he feels like he fits with the Giants.

“I think just the way that Wink runs his system. It’s kind of different than any other system that I’ve been in. When he says positionless defense, he truly means that,” Simmons said. “Learning things conceptionally knowing that where you are some weeks you may not be there next week. I think that was kind of something that stuck with me, and it goes a long way because it’s kind of how I think of things.

Just because you align on the edge like outside linebacker, you’re still maybe dropping curl flat. Curl flat drop is a curl flat drop, regardless if you’re doing it from the line of scrimmage or if you’re doing it from a linebacker spot, coming down spinning like a safety. It all could be the same it’s just all alignment and what not. I think my skillset that I have personally – an example like that, I can do that from any spot on the field effectively. I’d probably say that’s kind of what I was getting at saying that this is probably a really good fit for me.”

The Giants hope Simmons’ play on Sunday shows the Cardinals what they are missing, and helps the Giants to their first victory of the season.