*Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins chats with Giants.com as he prepares for his third season with Big Blue: *
By any standard, it would be fair to call 2017 a coming out party - not just for Landon Collins but the Giants defense as a whole. Collins made the Pro Bowl and was First Team All-Pro thanks to his five interceptions, four sacks, and 100 tackles. He still thinks he can do more.
"I want to get better reading my line of scrimmage reads, my technique, and being in the right place," Collins said. "There were a lot of plays where I could have been in a different place and made more plays. I could have had ten picks if I had been where I needed to be. That's what I want to work on."
One way Collins hopes to achieve that goal is by losing additional weight. Last year he played at around 215 pounds but hopes to get down to 210 before the season starts. It would be his lightest playing weight since his freshman year of college. He'll be using the next six weeks to try to get to his goal weight.
"Keep working on muscle endurance, keeping my weight down, and staying strong because it is a long season," Collins said. Your body needs to maintain that level. If I can get down to that weight it will give me that extra 'oomph' to get to those places to make those plays and make those big hits. If I could do that it would be a blessing."
As for the defense as a whole, despite finishing with the league's second best scoring defense, Collins believes the secondary can make more big plays that would lead to more victories.
"On the back end we want five picks each," Collins said. "We want to get our hands on a lot of balls, and try to return them for six. You got me, Jack Rabbit and DRC that can return those things so we are trying to showcase that for the unit so our offense doesn't have to score all the time."
Last year, the Giants defense was responsible for 25 takeaways. Only 11 teams had more than they did.
Don't forget Darian Thompson, who played in only two games before injuring his foot that forced him to miss the final fourteen. Collins was impressed by the work his potential future running make at safety put in after his injury last season.
"He took the knowledge off the field and continued working his mind formation wise and where he should be," Collins said. "Just listening to the coaches and making sure he understands what's going on with each and every change we make in the defense. He definitely stayed in the books and I commend him for that because it is hard when you are not playing the whole year and you can just fade out, but he didn't. When he stepped back on the field it was just like the same DT that was next to me."
One other change on the defense could be the starting middle linebacker, where second-year player BJ Goodson has been given first team reps during the spring. Collins must work with Goodson in getting the team lined up properly, and so far it has been working.
"He's been great," Collins said. "Knowing what he is supposed to be doing, listening to the vets and just understanding where everyone is supposed to be. Knowing who needs to help where and being a great player. The big thing is that he is smart. He's picked up the defense and he has to step up. He's gotten the trust from us that he knows the defense, knows what he's calling and is where he is supposed to be and that's definitely a plus because we need a young guy that knows how to do that."
If both Thompson and Goodson can make the same type of jump Collins did in his second year, this Giants defense could be even better than it was last season. Once the pads come on in training camp and the preseason games begin, everyone can see exactly how far Collins and his colleagues on defense have come.