A lot has happened since the Washington Redskins signed All-Pro safety Landon Collins to a lucrative multi-year deal in March.
The organization welcomed free agents Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Ereck Flowers, re-signed running back Adrian Peterson and extended defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis. It then added its potential franchise quarterback (Dwayne Haskins), a freakishly athletic defender (Montez Sweat) and several others as a part of its widely celebrated 2019 draft class. Next came rookie minicamp, followed by the first period of OTAs, which kicked off this week at Redskins Park.
After practice Tuesday, Redskins.com caught up with Collins to discuss several of these topics, plus his ongoing recovery from shoulder surgery and his individual and team expectations in Washington this fall.
-- As his new teammates threw on their jerseys and strapped on their helmets for the start of voluntary team activities Monday, Collins was off to the side in sunglasses, a long sleeve Redskins' T-Shirt and burgundy team shorts. He has yet to be cleared following shoulder surgery he underwent in December, though he maintains his rehab has been going as planned. "I feel like I'm good," Collins said. When the medical staff does clear Collins -- which he hopes will be soon -- he expects the team to be cautious with him initially by holding him out of certain drills and limiting his contact. But once training camp rolls around in July, Collins confirmed what head coach Jay Gruden told reporters on Monday: the three-time Pro Bowler will be all ready to go.
"I'm taking the right steps towards being fully healthy and ready for the season," Collins said. "I want to go out there for OTAs, but they need me on Sundays."
-- Collins spoke highly about the Redskins' 2019 draft class. He believes the franchise added key components on offense, defense and special teams and that these are players that can "help us win games." As for Haskins and Sweat, Collins sees two "unbelievable athletes" that not only look NFL ready but have been putting in the necessary work towards becoming contributors in Washington.
"We're trying to win, we're trying to make it back to that Lombardy Trophy, and it takes steps, it takes a process and it takes just getting together," Collins said in regard to the draft. "And I think [the Redskins] did a great job with that."
-- Collins has been locked in on the secondary during the first two days of OTAs, presented by Loudoun Economic Development. During team drills, Collins has intently watched the defensive backs from the sidelines while mentoring those standing alongside him. So far, Collins has liked what he has seen.
"Those boys out there playing around, having fun, making plays, and everybody is staying in tune," Collins said. "Nobody is getting frustrated and getting on themselves and trying to beat themselves down. Everybody's taking the knowledge that the vets and coaches are giving them with grace and going from there."
Despite being new, Collins said he has a good understanding of the Redskins' defensive alignment and concepts, which he said are similar to the previous two defenses he played in with the New York Giants and in college at Alabama. It's knowledge he's tried to pass along to his younger counterparts this week, many of whom have assumed bigger roles this week out of necessity. Collins and Quinton Dunbar are still rehabbing from injuries, while cornerback Josh Norman has not been in attendance.
"Just trying to give them a key component of what a veteran safety looks at or what a safety of my caliber knows what's going on out there," Collins said. "And trying to get their eyes in those right places so they can just be reacting instinctively."
-- Collins echoed the sentiments of his teammates and coaches when asked about linebacker Reuben Foster, who reportedly suffered a season-ending torn ACL on his first snap of OTAs on Monday and was placed on IR on Wednesday. Collins referred to Foster as an "animal on the field" and someone who was "living, breathing and dying football" during his time in Washington. He was a player Collins expected to make some defensive calls and even more plays -- "game-changing plays" -- for the Redskins' defense. "It's going to be a tough loss," Collins said.
With that being said, Collins is confident his former college teammate will reunite with his "Bama boys" on the field soon.
"We're calling him, we're texting him -- he's living with Ryan [Anderson] right now -- so we're always in his head and keeping the support," Collins said. "And if you keep the support, you keep your family tight, your circle tight, you'll be able to make it through and bounce back."
-- Collins cannot wait to get back onto the field, either. And as much as he misses directing the defense and disrupting opposing offenses, he also misses making mistakes, learning from them and making the necessary corrections.
For now, though, Collins is just happy to be involved in football activities again.
"Man, it's great," Collins said. "Even though I'm not on the field, just being a part of this, just being on the field with them, seeing them boys do the work and knowing that they know that once I get on the field, I'm going to put in the same work they put in, the same effort they put in, the same determination that they want...is the same thing I'm seeing them boys putting out there for each other right now. And just seeing that offensively, defensively and special teams-wise, the turnaround is going to be crazy."