The Arizona Cardinals failed to utilize the highly-touted Andy Isabella during the season-opener against the Detroit Lions
When the second day of last April’s NFL Draft arrived, the Arizona Cardinals jumped at an opportunity. Newly-hired head coach Kliff Kingsbury would be implementing a brand new offense, and was searching for the right kind of pieces to run it. The Cards took Kyler Murray with their first pick, so grabbing a wide receiver who the quarterback could throw to would be a logical next step.
After addressing the defense with cornerback Byron Murphy with the first of their two second-round selections, the Cardinals grabbed a wideout with their next choice. Andy Isabella, a speedster who ran a 4.31 forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine back in February, was taken with the 62nd-overall pick. Kingsbury, who viewed the pass-catcher as a perfect fit for his “Air Raid” system, was obviously thrilled.
Isabella’s four-year numbers at the University of Massachusetts were spectacular. The 2018 All-American tallied 102 receptions, 1,698 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns as a senior last season. Isabella’s totals during his time at the school included 231 catches, 3,868 yards from scrimmage and 32 total scores for the Minutemen.
With a great deal of hype surrounding him, many expected Isabella to hit the ground running with Arizona. The rookie, it was expected, would play a vital role in Kingsbury’s pass-happy scheme from the get-go. Unfortunately, Isabella’s professional debut last Sunday against the Detroit Lions was anything but memorable.
The 22-year old, who had been the number-one option at UMASS, failed to register even one offensive snap for the Cards. In fact, Isabella was beaten out for playing time by three unlikely candidates. Three pass-catchers who were fully expected to be below the 5’9, 188 pounder on the club’s depth chart.
Damiere Byrd, a journeyman free agent who was just signed this past March, logged 78 offensive snaps for the Cardinals. KeeSean Johnson, a first-year player who was drafted four rounds after Isabella, was on the field for 68 plays. Even Trent Sherfield, an undrafted free agent from 2018, was credited with five snaps.
Isabella did see action for Arizona on special teams. The squad’s new kickoff-return man ran back four kicks for 86 yards, with a long of 32. In total, Isabella registered seven special teams plays versus the Lions.
It’s possible that a knee injury he suffered last month could be the culprit for Isabella’s slow start. The receiver was forced to leave a practice back on August 1st, moments after scoring a touchdown. The setback caused Isabella to miss the Cards first preseason contest on August 8th.
Isabella’s blazing speed should make him a fixture in Kingsbury’s offense some time soon. A weapon that can take the top off of a defense is a valuable asset to have. This weekend’s tilt with the Baltimore Ravens may be the perfect time to see what Isabella can bring to the Cardinals.