Landon Collins aims to play Sunday despite injury:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Landon Collins didn't practice today, a rarity in his three-year Giants career. It would be even more unusual for the standout safety to miss a game; since he was selected with the first choice in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Collins has started every one of the team's 46 regular-season and postseason games.
Collins said today the news in the first sentence of that paragraph does not mean the streak noted in the second sentence will end Sunday, when the Giants host the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It's sore, but other than that, I'm going to be able to play on Sunday," Collins said. "So that's all that's key to me."
Collins insisted making start No. 47 is not nearly as important as simply playing in the game.
"I'm not really worried about starting every game," Collins said. "My thing is to play every game. I'm more into playing than starting. It's important to me to be out there with my brothers and try to help them win a game. I just want to be out there with my guys. I'm confident I'm going to be out there."
Collins sprained his ankle late in the Giants' 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. But he said it wasn't nearly as serious as a similar injury he suffered against the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 8. And as has been noted, Collins missed no time because of that injury.
"Actually, this ankle injury is 10 times better than the one I had against the Chargers," Collins said. "If you could go through all the stuff that happened, I should have never played the next three games. It's the same (injury), but it's not as severe."
Collins is glad he played in those three games before the bye, in which he totaled 13 tackles (12 solo), plus an interception in the Giants' victory in Denver.
"I don't regret it at all," he said. "If I feel like I can play, if I can make myself play, I know I can make a difference on the field, I'm going to be out there."
Despite Collins' eagerness to play, interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo was asked today if it makes more sense for the Giants to keep Collins sidelined for the season's final three games. Collins is one of the team's best players, a 2016 first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler. The Giants want him to be in the back of their secondary for many years.
"We'll have to look at it," Spagnuolo said. "I don't know if he'll let us. Sometimes you got to protect these guys from themselves, but he didn't do anything today. We'll see tomorrow and then he would have to convince – look it, I don't want him to go out there and get hurt any worse. We'll do the right thing."
It was the second time in as many news conferences that Spagnuolo mentioned protecting players from themselves when answering a question about Collins.
"I asked somebody about that," Collins said. "I didn't know what that meant when he said it, and he kind of broke it down to me. It's a little bit of a compliment, because for myself and the competitor that I am, if I know I can play, if I feel like I can play or I can do something, I'm going to do it. What Spags said, I took it as a compliment, because I would feel like I'm letting my boys down if I'm not on the field with them, and that hurts me more than anything."
Asked if shutting down has crossed his mind, Collins said, "No, I'm still young (he turns 24 on Jan. 10). Maybe if I was 26 or 27 or something like that, maybe I would consider it then, but not now. I'm still young right now."
Missing practice today was difficult enough. Reviewing it later made the feeling worse.
"It's going to be harder when I get into this film room to see all of that," said before post-practice meetings. "I didn't watch practice yet today, but it's definitely going to be hard watching it in the film room, and hearing them boys talk and me not being on the field with them and not being able to fix problems and say anything. But I'm going to help the guys that were on the field, and tell them what they need to be doing and what they need to see and stuff like that."
Collins is confronting the dilemma all players in his situation face: how do you balance the necessity of intelligently dealing with an injury, while also satisfying a competitive urge to suit up and play.
"I look at it as, people recognize when I'm on the field," Collins said. "Even though I'm injured, at the same time I can still do something and make a difference and be a playmaker, regardless if he's on the field or not and make plays. Just my presence on the field helps our defense as a whole, and it betters each one of us knowing that we have all of our guys out on the field."
Though Collins leads the Giants with 97 tackles (73 solo) and will finish with a team-high total for the third consecutive season, he is not pleased with his performance. Collins believes he hasn't been as dominant as he was in the past, particularly last season, when he was the NFL's best safety.
"It's like, I could have done this, I could have done that," Collins said. "But at the same time, I'm like, I'm glad I was on the field because I know it would be different if I was fully off it.
"It's been very frustrating for myself to deal with injuries, but it's a part of the game. It comes with the game. I hate it, but at the same time, if I know I can be on the field and I can play, I'm going to do it regardless."
Including Sunday, if he gets that opportunity.
*Spagnuolo confirmed he selected defensive tackle Damon Harrison to replace Jonathan Casillas as the team's defensive captain. Casillas was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 6. It was mentioned to Spagnuolo that earlier this year, Harrison told reporters earlier this year that he is not a leader.
"It's funny you say that," Spagnuolo said. "I just said, 'God gifted you with some leadership tools.' I mean, we talked about that. He was more than willing to step up and be that guy. He doesn't like to be in the forefront of things. You know how there are all different kinds of leaders. There's guys that lead by example. There's quiet leaders. There's vocal leaders. He's a leader."
*In addition to Collins, three Giants did not practice today: wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. (ankle), offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back), and Harrison (not injury-related).
Five players were limited: defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (finger), linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), tight end Rhett Ellison (finger), wide receiver Travis Rudolph (hamstring), and cornerback Brandon Dixon (heel/hamstring).
Two Eagles did not practice: tight end Brent Celek (not injury-related) and guard Stefan Wisniewski (ankle).
*The Giants and Toyota, in partnership with the United States Marines, will hold their annual Toys for Tots drive at MetLife Stadium when they host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to any of the collection vehicles and volunteers located at each entrance to the stadium prior to the game. Uniformed Marine Corps Reserves will be on hand to assist in collecting these gifts.
Modell's Sporting Goods has donated $2,500 worth of sports equipment to the cause and will hand out coupons for select Nike products to all fans who donate a toy. Coupons are redeemable at Modell's locations only. All gifts collected during the drive will be donated to Toys for Tots, the premier community action program of the United States Marines. Over the last 50 years, the Marines have distributed over 272,000,000 toys to children across the country during the holiday season.
Since the late 1970's, the Giants have participated in this program and hosted an annual Toys for Tots drive, helping to bring the joy of Christmas to children across the tri-state area. Once again, the Giants ask their friends and fans to join the team as we assist our neighbors in need.