Landon Collins was signed to the Giants’ practice squad more than two months ago, surely a humbling experience for a former Pro Bowl-level player.
Collins’ positive attitude and nose-down 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 over his first four seasons with the Giants before signing with Washington as a free agent in 2019. Collins, on a game-day elevation from the practice squad for the second time this season, took snaps as the Giants’ latest inside linebacker and registered three combined tackles in last week’s win against the Commanders, who released him earlier this year.
“Just knowing that I worked hard and showed what I can do, and getting an opportunity, that was the best part about it,” Collins said after Thursday’ s practice in East Rutherford. “It was definitely humbling, but I’ve always been that way. And I’ve always been a worker, so that’s something that’s never changed.
“I never came here with an expectation or anything like that. I came here just to go to work and be back in the building, so that’s the best part about it.”
Collins insists he still thinks of himself as a safety, but his ascension into the Giants’ rotation extends a season-long shuffling at inside linebacker, beginning with since-released Blake Martinez as the starter during the preseason.
Austin Calitro was the Week 1 starter, and Tae Crowder made eight starts before switching roster spots with Collins this week and joining the practice squad. Jaylon Smith and Micah McFadden started at the inside spots in last week’s win over Washington, with Collins also playing 27 defensive snaps, often inside the box.
“We’ve had some guys, and I think the guys we have in there right now we have confidence and trust in, including Landon,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “We’ll go out there and try to play a good game.”
The last time the Giants qualified for the playoffs, Collins, of course, was a starting safety playing his second NFL season in 2016.
“It seems forever ago, because I’m getting up there in age,” the 28-year-old Collins said. “It’s crazy, because after so many years, and last time was when I was here, it’s a blessing to get that opportunity. … We’re on that road to getting opportunity again.”
The Giants would clinch a playoff spot this weekend with a win and losses by two out of three teams: Commanders (at the 49ers), Lions (at the Panthers) and Seahawks (at the Chiefs).
“So it’s exciting, because now you get to really contribute and make some plays for this team to make that run,” Collins said. “That run is as big as it comes. This opportunity is a blessing and I’m thankful for it.”
Daboll added that he and the coaching staff have been impressed by how Collins has handled his practice-squad status and remained patient for his opportunity.
“I think that’s what we look for, the type of guys we look for to bring into the organization,” Daboll said. “It’s not always going to be perfect. It’s never always going to go your way. Come in with a good attitude, continue to work, continue to earn it, and again, that’s not easy to do, whether it’s Landon, a guy like [wide receiver Darius] Slayton
“There’s a mental toughness that you need to play this game and it’s not just after a loss, maybe it’s from playing time, maybe it’s another thing, that you gotta keep pushing, you gotta keep a positive attitude. And [Collins] has done that.”
Collins stressed that he’s played “a lot inside the box” throughout his eight-year NFL career, and says he’s “comfortable” playing whatever role is needed within defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s scheme.
“I’m just playing ball, and not really worrying about it,” Collins said. “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 accomplish and being a factor.”
Leave a Reply