Isaiah Simmons finally arrived at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center last week, nearly three months later than usual for rookies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected myriad parts of the 2020 season, and the first-year players are receiving a particularly rough hand.
The No. 8 overall pick acknowledged on Wednesday that virtual meetings and a lack of practice have been to his detriment, but it is far from woe-is-me for Simmons, who is adamant he can still have a successful rookie campaign.
“I’m not going to adjust my personal goals because we’re having a little adversity with this whole pandemic,” Simmons said. “It’s either I’m going to achieve my goals or I’m not at the end of the day. I don’t feel like I should lower my expectations or my standards for myself just because there are a few obstacles in the road.”
Simmons said he hasn’t made many specific goals, instead focusing on overall impact.
“I’m not going to come out here and say I want to be Defensive Rookie of the Year,” Simmons said. “That would be great and all, but I believe if I come out there and play, everything will fall in place. My biggest goal is to just make as big of an impact as I can for this organization.’
The Cardinals’ defense has more question marks than the offense, and if Simmons can make an immediate difference, it would be a big help.
Simmons, who played linebacker, edge rusher, cornerback and safety in college, said he has been focusing exclusively on inside linebacker this offseason.
“Everybody is paid to do their job out here, so I don’t know if I’m necessarily needed to do everything I did in college,” Simmons said.
While his versatility could be reined in early, Simmons’ skillset is so vast that he figures to still do much more than a normal inside linebacker.
Simmons said he’s been watching tape of defensive backs Jalen Ramsey and Tyrann Mathieu for coverage tips, and edge-rushers Chandler Jones and Von Miller for pass-rush moves.
“I wouldn’t really call myself a traditional linebacker,” Simmons said.