Almost no one on the Redskins knows exactly how Landon Collins is feeling as he returns to MetLife Stadium for his first matchup against his former team, but they are certain of one thing: he's going to show up in a big way, just as he's done so far this season.
"He's a motivated player," said cornerback Josh Norman. "I think anybody who plays an old team has a little bit more gusto about them. But at the same time, Landon is Landon, so he's going to play his game…whatever team comes to face us. So I'm looking forward to him having a big game as well."
Collins was "heartbroken" in March when the New York Giants decided to move on from the Pro Bowl safety after four years with the team. That's when the Redskins came into the picture and signed him to a six-year, $84 million deal to keep him in the division.
"I've got a lot of motivation for the next six years," Collins said in March after signing his new contract.
About six months later, Collins has proven to be a force in the Redskins secondary, and now he's preparing to square off against the team he thought he would spend his career with.
For the past three games, Collins has made his presence known to opposing offenses. He has 27 tackles -- 20 solo, seven assists and two for a loss -- which leads his position in the NFC. Head coach Jay Gruden said that he is the "main guy" in addition to Norman in the secondary.
Collins' stats are even more unique when comparing them to his previous seasons with the Giants. While this is the third time in his career that he has at least 20 tackles in the first three games, his 27 tackles are the most he has recorded through the first three games.
"He's done some good things, without a doubt," Gruden said practice Wednesday. "[We're] glad we have him, that's for sure."
Gruden added that aside from one play where he thinks Collins missed a tackle on a screen pass, Collins has found ways to put himself in the right spots to make a difference on the defense.
"For the most part, he's in good position," Gruden said. "[He] uses his eyes, gets his pads down and wraps up."
Collins' consistency has proven to his teammates that he is going to produce no matter who they play each week. That's why they are confident Collins is going to have a good game against the Giants, regardless of his feelings towards the organization.
"One thing about Landon is that he's real level-headed when it comes to that stuff," said linebacker Jon Bostic. "He's calm off the field and when it's game day…he looks like a linebacker out there."
Collins has been quiet in the days leading up to the matchup against the Giants, but his coaches and teammates aren't concerned with how he is going to produce. They're more worried about getting their first win of the year, and they're sure that's what Collins is worried about as well.
"I think the reason we like Landon is because he plays highly motivated every Sunday, but I'm sure he will personally have some added incentive," Gruden said. "But we expect Landon to play hard like he does every game and if he has some added incentive, then great. The incentive should be we're 0-3, we're playing another division game -- that's enough incentive for me, for everybody. But if he has a little more, that's fine."