It didn’t take New York Giants safety Landon Collins long to decide that red just isn’t his color.
Red refers to the jersey color he’s had to wear during the OTAs, which of course is the color jersey reserved for players who are allowed to participate in drills but who are not allowed to engage in contact.
For Collins, a safety who has made his living knocking into ball carriers with such a physical force that sends guys back to last Tuesday, the jersey has become a necessity as he recovers from a surgical procedure to help properly heal a broken forearm he suffered last season which cost him the final regular-season game of 2017.
But make no mistake about it: Collins can’t wait to lose the jersey and get back to doing the team portion of practice.
“I feel like we are on schedule,” he said when asked how close he was to being cleared. “We kind of just kept it to ourselves about the whole process and stuff like that. We always knew it was going to take about four weeks, to be safe, six to eight. But it took about four weeks with the proper equipment that we needed.”
Collins, who this weekend will host his second annual Charity Softball Game in Pomona, NY, is scheduled to meet with his doctor for a checkup on his arm in the coming days. While he didn’t rule out the possibility of being fully ready to go by next week’s mandatory minicamp, he sounded unsure of that happening.
“I’m very close. Just right now, we’re just taking the precautions, not putting me into the team things, getting my arm caught or anything,” he said. “We’re right around the corner from the season, so we’re not about to risk anything.
“It’s minicamp, we’re not playing for anything right now.”
In the meantime, Collins, who enters a contract year this season, is soaking in as much as he can of the new defense being installed by defensive coordinator James Bettcher, which Collins has characterized as a fast-moving defense.
“Everybody can make plays, literally,” he said. “It’s not to where it’s keyed on one person making the play. It’s overall, anybody can make the play. And we all can play fast. It’s not very complex and we have everything set in stone. You just play fast.”
Collins also likes the new attitude in the building that is trying to sweep out the stench of a 3-13 season and restore pride in Giants football.
“Everybody is hungrier,” he said. “People wanting to play and the new staff is in here. They’re asking a lot more from players—just asking to come out here and practice and play hard and earn your position.”
In other words, he explained, no one should expect to be handed a starting role or a roster spot, which he said was the kind of the case in the past.
“Just put in more work. Don’t be lackadaisical, basically,” he said. “As we were kind of last year, everybody was kind of set in stone, everybody knew who was going to be playing. We’re looking for accountability and knowing what you’re supposed to do, how you’re supposed to do it and when you’re supposed to do it.
“Come out here and play each and every down. And I know you all saw the practice today—everybody is still flying around and I don’t know how many practices we’ve had so far, but we’re getting close to the end and we’re still flying.”
That is why Collins is making it a point to be at every practice, despite the red jersey that prevents him from participating in all the activities.
“I’ve got to come in and say that I can learn this defense, even though I’m not on the field, and put it to the test. And when I get my opportunity to show that I can do it, that me not being on the field is not slowing me down,” he said.
Collins, who described defensive coordinator James Bettcher as a “cool guy” said the system that he’s putting in place reminds him of his days at Alabama, which should help him with his learning curve for when he does get cleared.”
“When he came in and he started coaching, it was like I’m back to kind of my grounds and stuff like that. Still quarters, still stuff like that, but back to my grounds from what I had learned in college. It’s kind of second nature.”