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5 things we learned: Isaiah Simmons' role 'is going to expand'


The Giants were back on the practice field Thursday as they continue their preparations for Sunday's game in Arizona.

Coordinators Wink Martindale, Mike Kafka and Thomas McGaughey spoke to the media before practice.

Here are five things we learned Thursday.

1. Simmons' role 'is going to expand'

In his Giants debut last week, Isaiah Simmons recorded one solo tackle on 15 defensive (26 percent) and seven special teams snaps. Keep in mind, Simmons was acquired in a trade with the Cardinals less than three weeks ago. While he saw limited action in the season opener, Martindale told the media that the versatile defender's role will continue to grow as the season goes on.

"I think his role is going to expand, because he's that good of a player and he's just learning the package," the defensive coordinator 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."

Simmons will get the opportunity to face his former team right away. In his three seasons with the Cardinals, Simmons picked up 7.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and four interceptions. Martindale believes the 25-year-old will be extra motivated in his return to Arizona.

"I know that his competitive juices will be flowing a little bit hotter than normal, because that's just the human nature of the sport, too," said Martindale. "It's just like us with Baltimore last year, or Dabs when he goes to Buffalo. I mean, it's just one of those things."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 2 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.

2. Gannon bringing Eagles defense to Arizona

The Giants will enter this weekend's matchup with some familiarity with the Cardinals' defense. First-year head coach Jonathan Gannon was hired by Arizona following two seasons as the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia. The Eagles had plenty of success on defense last season, as Gannon's unit ranked as one of the best in the league. While the personnel they will be going up against on Sunday is obviously different from what they faced in Philadelphia last year, Mike Kafka told the media that he can see some aspects of the old Eagles defense, especially when it comes to the unit's speed.

"Coach Gannon's a really good coach," said Kafka. "He's smart, he'll get those guys rolling. You can see some familiarity there from Philadelphia, some of the scheme stuff. They've only had one game and some preseason games so you're trying to kind of work through all the tape on that, but they play fast. They're a tough team so we're looking forward to the challenge."

The Cardinals held the Commanders to just 248 total yards in the season opener. Washington was able to convert on just four of 12 third down attempts, while the Cardinals defense racked up six sacks. One of the leaders of the Arizona defense is three-time All-Pro safety Budda Baker, who recorded five tackles (three solo) last week.

"Budda Baker is just about everywhere on the field," the offensive coordinator said. "He's an impressive player. You can tell he's one of those guys that kind of gets everyone lined up, he flies to the football. He plays hard, he plays fast so he's a guy that you've got to know where he's at on every snap."

3. Wink: Rookie corners 'aggressive' in NFL debut

Due to the game script, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott only attempted 24 passes in Week 1, completing 13 of them (54.2 percent) for 143 yards and a 72.0 passer rating. Part of the reason for Prescott's limited success was the play of the Giants' two rookie cornerbacks, Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III. Banks was targeted twice for no completions with two passes defensed, while Hawkins allowed just one reception, according to Pro Football Focus, and finished second on the team with seven tackles (five solo).

While it wasn't a perfect game for the defense overall, Wink Martindale was encouraged by the performance of his two starting rookie cornerbacks.

"I thought he played well," Martindale said about Hawkins. "I think that the first time you're out there, underneath the lights on Sunday Night Football, I thought he played well. The thing I liked about both the rookie corners is how aggressive they are. They like to tackle, and they like to play physical. So, I like where we're headed with that group."

This week, Banks, Hawkins and Adoree' Jackson will be tasked with covering Cardinals wide receivers Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore and Michael Wilson. The three receivers combined for eight receptions for 80 yards in Week 1.

4. Kafka sees sense of urgency

The Giants were the only team in the NFL to be shut out in Week 1. The offense gained just 171 total yards on 12 drives, with an average of 2.6 yards per play, and converted on only five of 16 third down attempts. Simply put, these numbers are not going to get it done.

But the Giants have moved past last week's loss and are solely focused on this weekend's opponent.

"The things that we did last week, we're going to take all the good stuff that we did, learn from the things that we didn't do so well and then apply it to this week in practice," said Kafka. "I think our guys have had that approach and they've taken that approach and I think they're having a good week. Today's no different, we have to have the right urgency and the right tempo and demeanor and practice that way."

"Our urgency is going to always be the same, regardless," he added later. "We're going to have the same approach, our same process and just really focus on that process. So, just improving on all the things we need to get better at and the things that we are doing really well, build on that. Whether it's scheme, whether that's with the people that we have in the building, we'll always try to work to attack that."

5. Injury updates; Thomas, Ojulari limited

After being sidelined Wednesday with a hamstring injury, left tackle Andrew Thomas was back on the practice field in a limited capacity.

Outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari suffered a hamstring injury himself during 1-on-1 drills Wednesday. The third-year edge rusher was able to return to the practice field Thursday, albeit as a limited participant.

Cornerback Deonte Banks left Sunday's game early due to cramps and was listed on the injury report Wednesday as limited with a calf injury. However, coach Brian Daboll told the media Thursday that the injury designation resulted from Sunday's cramps, and that the rookie corner should be ready to go on Sunday.

Tight end Darren Waller received a veteran rest day to start the practice week, but was back out there Thursday. Meanwhile, wide receiver Sterling Shepard got a veteran rest day himself Thursday.

In addition to Thomas, Ojulari, Banks and Waller, the following players were also listed as limited - linebacker Cam Brown (ankle), kicker Graham Gano (ankle), safety Gervarrius Owens (hamstring), tackle Matt Peart (elbow) and wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee).

View rare photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Cardinals.


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