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Inside a whirlwind 48 hours for Isaiah Simmons

ISAIAH-SIMMONS

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants and Isaiah Simmons have partaken in the NFL's version of speed dating.

On Thursday, the Giants announced they had sent a seventh-round draft choice to the Arizona Cardinals to acquire Simmons, a linebacker/safety who was the eighth overall selection of the 2020 NFL Draft. Simmons flew from Minnesota, where the Cardinals held joint practices during the week and played the Vikings Saturday, to New Jersey on Thursday afternoon to formally meet his new coaches and teammates. On Saturday, he started at inside linebacker for the Giants, who concluded their preseason with a 32-24 loss to the Jets in MetLife Stadium.

Simmons wasn't credited with a tackle, but on the Jets' first third down he forced Aaron Rodgers out of the pocket before the Jets' quarterback threw an incompletion.

"I wanted that sack," Simmons said. "I definitely did, but it's okay. We'll see him again." The teams will meet in a regular season game on Oct. 29.

Coach Brian Daboll, who estimated Simmons played six or seven plays, was asked after the game why the newcomer played so soon after his arrival.

"I think, one, it's good to just give some information to a player that comes in that quick and see how they handle it," Daboll said. "So, he came, he was in, he was in early, he was meeting with Eggs (inside linebackers coach John Egorugwu). We only gave him a limited role but wanted to get him out there just to get his feet wet in the defense. Again, it was not very many defenses, but he studied hard, and he was ready to go."

In truth, Simmons didn't have a great deal to think about.

"The rule they gave me was that we run to the ball, and I said 'Well, that's an easy rule,'" Simmons said. "I have no issue with that. As of right now, they're still getting me familiar with the system, learning everything, but just what Wink (Martindale, the defensive coordinator) said. There is going to be different things that I'll be doing. I'm just excited to dive deep into those tasks and learn all of the fine details within them, so I can execute them to the highest ability."

A little more than 48 hours before he took the field, Simmons had no idea he would play for the Giants on Saturday. But there he was, lining up with a team that made the playoffs last season and chasing Aaron Rodgers in his first series with the Jets.

"It was exciting," Simmons said. "Just to be able to get out there in new threads, it felt really good. It felt amazing out there in a new environment with Giants fans, it was just amazing. It felt really good. When they (the Giants) came to me and said to me 'How do you feel about playing (vs. the Jets),' I said, 'Let's go. I'm ready to go.' I just appreciate them for giving me the opportunity.

"Extremely excited; how could I not be? This is a great organization, great coaching staff, and just being around the guys for a little bit of time, everybody here is great. Personally, for me, it's been a bit hectic. I came straight from Minnesota, so it's been a little hectic. It's been good, though; it's been hectic in a good way. I'm glad that these are things that I'm dealing with right now, so everything has been hectic, but good."

Simmons, who was a college teammate at Clemson with defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, is already close with one of his new teammates who he did not play with in college; this offseason he worked out with Saquon Barkley in Arizona. And on Sept. 17, they will return there when the Giants visit the Cardinals.

"He talks a lot of (trash), if nobody knows," Simmons said of Barkley. "He's probably the most competitive person I've ever met in my whole life with everything, and he's been telling me Week Two, Week Two, Week Two. But now we're going to be together Week Two and, actually, every single game we're going to be together. He got really lucky."

So, it seems, did Simmons.

View photos from the preseason finale between the Giants and Jets at MetLife Stadium.

*Almost all of the Giants' starters had the night off. However, the three linemen in contention for the starting guard positions all started the game with Mark Glowinski at right guard, Joshua Ezeudu at left guard and Ben Bredeson taking over at center for rookie starter John Michael Schmitz. The starting tackles were Matt Peart on the left and Korey Cunningham on the right. Glowinski, Bredeson and Ezeudu played only the first two series.

*The second line included Markus McKethan at right guard, who saw the first game action of his career. McKethan, a fifth-round draft choice in 2022, tore his ACL in a training camp practice prior to the start of the preseason last year. McKethan was joined on the second line by center Sean Harlow, left guard Shane Lemieux, Peart, and Cunningham.

*Tyrod Taylor started at quarterback and played the first two series. Rookie Tommy DeVito played the remainder of the game and completed 19 of 29 passes for 210 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown to David Sills with 47 seconds left in the game. DeVito also threw an interception that was returned 67 yards for a touchdown by Brandin Echols and was sacked four times.

"I think Tommy's improved since he's been here," Daboll said. "So, he's improved in the practices and the meeting room since he first got here. I think he's come a long way and certainly learned a lot. You can tell it's important to him. He's gone out there and played well and executed when we played. I'm proud of how he's competed and how he's improved."

*Sills led the Giants with six receptions for 81 yards. Rookie running back Eric Gray had four catches for 48 yards.

*James Robinson was the leading rusher with 55 yards on 10 carries, including a game-long 28-yarder. Rookie running back Jashaun Corbin scored on a one-yard touchdown run.

*Graham Gano kicked field goals of 40, 57 and 56 yards. The 57-yarder would have tied the longest three-pointer in Giants history had he done it in the regular season. Aldrick Rosas kicked the first 57-yarder in franchise history vs. Chicago on Dec. 2, 2018, and Gano matched him last Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

In his first three seasons with the Giants, Gano kicked at least two 50+-yard field goals in a game seven times, including a 57- and 56-yards last season.

Giants kickers have booted three field goals of 40+ yards in a regular-season game on 10 occasions. Gano has six of the 10, including two in 2022.

*The Giants had several players leave the game with injuries: Bobby McCain, who started at safety, suffered a concussion on the Giants' second defensive play on a blindside block by Randall Cobb, who was penalized 15 yards on the play. Cornerback Zyon Gilbert, another one of the substitute starters, suffered a hamstring injury on the Giants' first defensive series and was ruled out. Rookie free agent wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton injured his knee in the first quarter and did not return. Tight end Chris Myarick was the fourth Giants player to leave the game in the first quarter, he with a hand injury. Later in the game, a pair of rookies - cornerback Gemon Green (shoulder) and safety Gervarrius Owens (hamstring) were unable to continue.

*Giants players who were injured and not in uniform included running back Gary Brightwell, tight end Tommy Sweeney, offensive lineman Jack Anderson, defensive lineman Ryder Anderson, linebacker Cam Brown, cornerback Cor'Dale Flott and safety Nick McCloud, plus the two players on the physically unable to perform list, wideout Wan'Dale Robinson and corner Aaron Robinson.

*The Giants' game captains were Sterling Shepard and Jihad Ward. Both veteran players started the game. Shepard didn't catch a pass, but he did field a punt.

*The Giants open the regular season on Sunday night, Sept. 10, vs. Dallas. They must reduce their roster from 90 to 53 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

"There's work to be done here. (General manager) Joe (Schoen) and I, the coaches and scouts, we'll meet and then we'll talk about the things we need to talk about," Daboll said. "We'll have a week, but we're really just going to focus on tomorrow, just watch the tape and then we'll have our discussions.' 

"We're going to have a bunch of discussions here soon, tonight and tomorrow morning and the next day."

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