As the New York Giants slowly ramp up to transition from their off-season to the pre-season, they have had to do so without their premier defensive playmaker.
All-Pro safety Landon Collins has, for the most part, had to sit out the off-season program. Collins ended the 2017 season on the injured reserve thanks to a fractured forearm suffered in week 16. His absence has extended far further into the off-season than originally hoped because his injury did not heal correctly and required further surgery to heal properly.
Collins has returned to the field in a limited capacity of late, and said after Monday's OTA that he is right on schedule. He also believes that he is close to making a full return, saying, "I check with the doctors sometime this week, or next week. 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. We’re right around the corner from the season, so we’re not about to risk anything."
He also added that it is possible that he could be cleared for next week's mini-camp, but the ultimate goal is to be healthy for the season.
While Collins is limited in the work he is able to do on the field, he still gets value out of attending the voluntary OTAs.
If the Giants want James Bettcher's aggressive, flexible, creative, and blitz-happy scheme to be successful, they need their secondary to hold up in coverage. Collins and Janoris Jenkins should be able to bounce back from injury-plagued seasons, but the team also needs 2016 first round pick Eli Apple to put 2017 behind him and build on a promising rookie season. Collins was a critic of his early in the off-season, but he has offered nothing but praise of late.
About Apple, Collins said, "Eli, he’s comfortable now. He’s got a lot of stress off his shoulders and you can see it. He’s proven that when he comes out at the practices. I know you all have only seen a few (practices), but he’s just out here making plays. And that’s not the only play he made. So, he’s doing his thing and I’m happy for him. He’s growing up, he’s doing his thing and playing great ball."
Bigger than football
Towards the end of May, Collins, as well as Eli Apple, Nate Solder, Michael Thomas, and Teddy Williams, went to the still-devastated island of Puerto Rico.
The Giants donated $1 million to help hurricane relief after last year's horrific hurricane season. The contingent of Giants went to Puerto Rico to visit volunteers working with Americares —a non-profit that works to improve access to medicine and health care, and an organization whom the Giants have supported simce 9/11 — as well as to help raise awareness of the ongoing crisi on the island.
"My trip to Puerto Rico was eye-opening," Collins said. "And what I took away from it was that people are still out there grieving and need help. But at the same time, people going out there to even help as much as they can, even if roads are closed, buildings slid down, they are still trying to get there some kind of way. Walking through rivers and stuff like that, just trying to get people what they need to help and survive. So, it was big."
What Collins saw on the island was terrible, but hardly unfamiliar to the young man who is a survivor of Hurricane Katrina.
Collins said, "Shocking, I wouldn’t say that because I went through it already. So, at the same time, I know what those people are going through. I lost my home, I’ve been without power, I’ve been displaced. Is it shocking? No, because I’ve been through it. But seeing what they’re going through, I feel it and I know their hearts sting and I know what they’re going through. So, as much as I can help, I will try my best to help."
"It wasn’t tough because I made it out," he added. "But just thinking about it, yes, it was tough. Just seeing those people, just seeing what they’re going through, the struggle, not being able to travel, sometimes not having food. Yeah, it was tough seeing it. But just to see the smiles on their faces when they saw us walking through with packages, food, open arms just to give them a hug. It was great."