The positionless defense added a positionless player.
Two weeks before the 2023 NFL season kicks off, the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals agreed to a trade. The Giants acquired versatile safety Isaiah Simmons in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round draft choice.
"I'd say it's obviously pretty early," coach Brian Daboll said before Thursday's practice. "[General manager] Joe [Schoen] has done a good job with his staff of just evaluating and keeping conversations open about a number of players, him being one of them. Again, he's almost 6-4, around 240 [pounds], explosive, high pick. So, I just got off the phone with him a little while ago, said hello to him, introduced ourselves. We'll put him in our system and start teaching him our stuff."
View the best photos from safety Isaiah Simmons' NFL and collegiate career.
The eighth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Simmons has never missed a game, appearing 50 times in the regular season with 37 starts. In three NFL seasons, he has recorded 181 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 16 passes defensed, 11 quarterback hits, 13 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Last season, Simmons posted career-highs in sacks (4.0), interceptions (two), tackles for loss (five), and passes defensed (tied with seven).
His real value, though, is his versatility.
"That's one of the reasons why we made the trade," Daboll said. "We thought there's some upside there. Again, we'll put him in, we'll ask him to do probably quite a bit of things just to see what he takes to. A guy that's, again, athletic, explosive, has good size. I've seen him do some multiple things. Until we get him here, I'll give you a better answer, but certainly happy to have him."
That goes double for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who just yesterday talked about not wanting to put players "in a box" with labels.
"We like to put pressure on the quarterback in different ways because, like I have said many times, pressure breaks pipes," Martindale said. "It's one of those things where I say it's a positionless defense, so I just don't limit them and put them in a box. … It's what they do best, how can we get a free runner to the quarterback, and what it takes is 11 selfless guys out there and that's what you are seeing with us, with our guys. They are selfless players."
Simmons will see some familiar faces in the building as he gets up to speed. He has worked out in Arizona with running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. Of course, Simmons also won a national championship with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at Clemson, where they both had illustrious college careers.
Simmons was the first player in program history to win the Butkus Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top linebacker.
The 2019 ACC Defensive Player of the Year also became the sixth unanimous All-American in school history at the time, joining former Giant Terry Kinard (1982), Gaines Adams (2006), C.J. Spiller (2009), Da'Quan Bowers (2010) and Christian Wilkins (2018).
Simmons transitioned from safety in 2017 to the starting nickel/sam linebacker position in 2018. He concluded his Clemson career with 253 tackles (28.5 for loss), 10.5 sacks, 22 pass breakups, four interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), five forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 1,856 career snaps over 44 games (29 starts).
"That's why he was picked where he was picked," Daboll said. "Again, we'll get him here and see how he looks and start teaching him our stuff, but excited to have him."
Other notes from Thursday at training camp:
*Tight end Tommy Sweeney, who missed last week's game and hadn't practiced this week, was on a side field with teammates rehabilitating injuries on Wednesday when he had a medical event during practice. The Giants released a statement saying, "He is under the care of medical professionals in the Giants' athletic training room. He is stable, alert and conversant."
A day later, Daboll said Sweeney is doing well but still going through evaluations.
"I'm not going to get into anything specific but appreciate you asking," Daboll said. "But he's still going through some stuff."
Daboll said they will keep the "specifics in-house" but "anytime somebody goes down, it's always a scary thing."
After it happened, Daboll huddled the team together on the field.
"I just wanted everybody to know that he was fine," Daboll said. "I mean, he was in the training room, his dad was actually in the crowd. So, L.Y. (director of coaching operations Laura Young) saw him, we brought him in there, he was doing OK. I don't want to say he's OK because I'm not a physician, but I saw him this morning and he was walking around. He's fine. I just wanted to let everybody know that he was in good spirits, and he was doing OK."
*Tuesday, Aug. 29, is the NFL deadline for clubs to reduce their rosters from 90 to 53 players. After that, Daboll said they will have a player vote to determine team captains.
*Lawrence and wide receiver Sterling Shepard had veteran rest days.
*Former cornerback Prince Amukamara, a first-round draft choice who played five of his nine NFL seasons in a Giants uniform, signed a one-day contract to retire with the organization he helped win its fourth Lombardi Trophy in his rookie season. The 19th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Amukamara delivered an emotional retirement speech inside the fieldhouse as he was surrounded by family and friends, including former teammate Victor Cruz.