Landon Collins was signed to the Giants’ practice squad over two months ago, which is certainly a humbling experience for a former player at the Pro Bowl level.
Collins’ positive attitude and work ethic were rewarded Thursday when he was signed to the Giants’ 53-man roster for Saturday’s game against the Vikings.
The 28-year-old Safety was a three-time Pro Bowler during his first four seasons with the Giants before signing with Washington as a free agent in 2019. Collins, on this second practice squad game day last season, took shots as the newest player on the field. The Giants’ inside quarterback recorded three combined tackles in last week’s win against the Chiefs, who released him earlier this year.
“Just knowing I worked hard and showed what I could do, and getting a chance, that was the best part about it,” Collins said after Thursday’s training at East Rutherford. “It was definitely a humbling thing, but I’ve always been that way. And I’ve always been a worker, so that’s something that never changes.
“I didn’t come here with an expectation or anything like that. I only came here to go to work and get back to the building, so that’s the best part about it.”
Collins insists he still considers himself safe, but his rise to the Giants’ rotation is a season-long stretch at inside linebacker, starting with the since-released Blake Martinez as the starter during the preseason.
Austin Calitro was the starter for Week 1, and Tae Crowder made eight appearances before switching roster places with Collins this week and joining the practice squad. Jaylon Smith and Micah McFadden started at inside positions in last week’s win over Washington, in which Collins also played 27 defensive snaps, mostly inside the penalty area.
“We’ve had some players, and I think the players we have now that we have faith and confidence in, including Landon,” said Giants coach Brian DaPaul. “We’ll go there and try to play a good game.”
The last time the Giants made it to the playoffs, Collins was, of course, a safe starter to play his second NFL season in 2016.
“It feels like forever since I get up there in age,” said Collins, 28. “It’s crazy, because after so many years, and the last time I was here, it’s such a joy to have this opportunity. … We’re on this path to having the opportunity again.”
The Giants will clinch a playoff spot this weekend with wins and losses from two out of three teams: the Leaders (at the 49th), Lions (at the Panthers) and Seahawks (at the Chiefs).
“It’s exciting, because now you’re going to really contribute and make some plays for this team to do the job,” Collins said. “This run is about as big as they come. This opportunity is a blessing for which I am grateful.”
Daboll added that he and the coaching staff were impressed with the way Collins handled the state of his coaching staff and remained patient with his opportunity.
“I think that’s what we’re looking for, the kind of guys we’re looking for to get into the organisation,” said Daboll. “It’s not always going to be perfect. It’s not always going to go your way. Come on with a good attitude, keep working, keep earning it, and again, it’s not easy, whether it’s Landon, a guy like [wide receiver Darius] Slayton
“There’s the mental toughness you need to play this game and not just after losing, maybe from game time, maybe something else, you have to keep pushing, you have to keep a positive attitude. And [Collins] did that. ”
Collins stresses that he has played “a lot inside the box” throughout his eight-year playing career, and says he is “comfortable” playing any role needed in Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale’s scheme.
“I’m just playing ball,” Collins said, “and I don’t feel anxious about it.” “I just wanted to get the ‘W’ and take home the win and help our team get closer to where we’re trying to get closer to what we’re trying to achieve and be a factor.”
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