EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Two-time Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins is taking part in practice at organized team activities without the red jersey which tells other New York Giants players to keep their hands off him.
It doesn’t mean Collins has fully recovered from a late-season broken right arm that required two surgeries to fix. It does mean the leader of the defense is close, and could take part in next week’s mandatory three-day minicamp.
Don’t expect it, though. Coming off a 3-13 season, the Giants are not going to run the risk even with a new 3-4 defense being installed by coordinator James Bettcher for coach Pat Shurmur.
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”I check with the doctors sometime this week, or next week,” Collins said Monday after practice. ”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.”
Collins broke his right forearm on Dec. 24 in Arizona. He had surgery the following week, but the arm did not heal properly, requiring a second surgery in late April.
”Nothing went wrong, we did everything, had my second opinion from other doctors, everything was great,” he said. ”I was just in that 20 percentile where it didn’t heal correctly.”
Collins said he is not concerned about his arm. He has no intention of wearing a protective device on it next season. He currently wears a piece of carbon fiber as protection.
The new defense reminds Collins of what he played at Alabama. He feels players are hungrier and know they have to earn their jobs this season. He includes himself in that group.
”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,” said Collins, who will be entering his fourth pro season. ”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.”
Collins also has been active in community work since the injury. He took a trip with a group of teammates to Puerto Rico last month.
”What I took away from it was that people are still out there grieving and need help,” he said, adding the trip brought back memories. When he was in grade school in Louisiana, Collins experienced Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
”I lost my home, I’ve been without power, I’ve been displaced,” Collins said. ”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.”
The memory he took home from the trip was the smiling faces he saw as the group distributed packages, food – and the open arms just to give people a hug.