Derrick Henry makes defenders standing in his path pay the price. Stopping the Tennessee Titans running back is a daunting challenge. Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons isn’t fazed by the task.

The reigning NFL leading rusher has a habit of making defenders look weightless. His stiff arm and bulldozing running style regularly allows defenders to join him in a multitude of “Derrick Henry Stiff Arm” highlight reels. This is who the Cardinals’ second-year linebacker hopes to stop in Sunday’s season opener in a potentially steamy environment in Nashville.

“I’m not playing scared,” Simmons said. “At the end of the day, he puts his cleats on just like me. He does have that great ability, stiff-arming ability, but I’m not going into the game, like, ‘Let me not make a highlight.’”

Henry and Simmons may put their cleats on the same way, but their experience is vastly different. The Titans running back is about to embark on his fifth season in the league. In a landscape where the league's flashiest running backs are elusive and can catch as well as any receiver, Henry has made a name for himself thanks to his downhill running style, and it’s worked. He totaled a league-high 2,027 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2020, making it the second season he led the league in both categories.

Simmons, 23, worked his way to becoming a starter during his rookie season, opening seven games and playing in all 16. His 376 snaps were 34% of the total defensive snaps last season, but he didn’t waste the opportunities. The first-round draft pick was seventh on the Cardinals defense with 54 combined tackles. Heading into 2021, Simmons will be a starter and his first test, along with the remainder of the defense, will be figuring out a way to stop or at least slow down Henry.

“I'd probably say the biggest key is just (to) keep him off of our secondary,” the inside linebacker said. “We’ve seen the monster stiff-arm he has. So, trying to keep him off of our smaller guys as much as we possibly can.”