L.J. Collier is on a mission to prove himself in 2020 after a rookie campaign in which he rarely got to play. He never truly recovered from a severe ankle sprain during his first NFL training camp and his health limited him to just three tackles in 11 games.
Now he's fully healthy and has trimmed down to his college weight of 275 pounds. He was all the way up near 285 pounds as a rookie. A promising showing in camp earned Collier the starting 5-tech job out of camp by beating Rasheem Green in a position battle.
"It helps (my confidence) a lot," Collier said of winning the job this summer. "As a first-round pick, a lot of people think things are given to you. I don't carry myself that way. ... It's football. At the end of the day, the best man will be out there."
Collier played 30 snaps in the Seahawks' Week 1 win against the Atlanta Falcons and posted one tackle and one quarterback hit.
"There were some plays I didn't really like, but for my first start I thought it went all around pretty good," he said.
Green also played 30 snaps in Atlanta. Collier was the guy in base while the Seahawks turned to Green on pass rush downs. Now Green (shoulder/neck) is unlikely to play in Week 2 against the New England Patriots. That could lead to more snaps for Collier.
"I really want to be on the rush groups, so I feel like I'm going to get a few opportunities there, and I'm going to show what I've got," Collier said. "I haven't showed much of my pass rush, therefore it'll open up a door for me to go there and get some good rushes in this week and hopefully get my first sack."
First he'll have to chip in to limit New England's physical rushing attack. The Patriots ran the ball 42 times for 217 yards in their Week 1 win over the Dolphins. Cam Newton ran the ball 15 times himself for a team-high 75 yards and two scores.
"(If) we stop the run and bring them out of their comfort zone and make them throw the ball, then we've got them," Collier said.
It surely won't be that trivial against a team as talented and well-coached as the Patriots, but Collier will have every opportunity to leave his mark in Week 2.