Landon Collins doesn't like new LB role but is willing to play it


Many times, those in the workforce will find themselves in a predicament: Is it best to do the job that they love or the job that's the most practical for them?

Landon Collins is quite familiar with that dilemma these days.

The Washington veteran has lined up as a safety ever since his high school days, and it's a spot that he very much adores.

However, the team's coaching staff is currently having Collins play much closer to the line of scrimmage in a more linebacker-type role, because it's a place that the Burgundy and Gold needs help at.

On Thursday, Collins met with the media, and his not-official-yet-widely-understood position change was the primary topic. To his credit, he was incredibly honest when discussing the move.

"I'm a team player," Collins said. "Do I like playing down there? I'm good at it. If I'm good at it, I'll play there. If I need to be played there, cool. Other than that, do I like playing linebacker? No. No I don't. I don't like hitting big linemen, getting big linemen off me. I'm undersized for being a linebacker. So yeah, I don't want to play down there, but if need to, yeah, I'll do so. I'm good at it."

Without Jon Bostic, who's been on injured reserve since getting hurt in Week 4, Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio are thin at linebacker, and it's not like things were going well there before Bostic's injury. At safety, meanwhile, they simply have more options.


Therefore, it makes sense to slide Collins down into the box, especially as he's struggled in deep coverage with the franchise.

"He’s a downhill, attacking style of player and we got to make sure we’re putting him in position to have success for us," Rivera said of Collins on Wednesday.

While Collins told reporters that his days with Nick Saban at Alabama, as well as his time with the Giants, are helping him in this transition — the schemes at those two stops emphasized reading the line of scrimmage — he's still experiencing a learning curve.

At safety, for example, when Collins comes closer to the opposing offense before, or after the snap, he's not always accounted for, meaning he can wreak more havoc.

His reads are different back there, too; he explained on Thursday that as a defensive back, he's often required to key in on the area between the tight end and guard, but at linebacker, his eyes are between the guard and the center.

As for how long this tweak will last, Collins himself isn't sure.

"That's what I'm trying to figure out," he admitted "I ask these questions, I don't have a solidified answer. As we practice, I'm not taking any reps in the back end. So, from that standpoint, I just kind of figure that's what they're trying to do right now."

There's no uncertainty about his feelings for being a safety, though. It's almost as if "linebacker" is a word he doesn't even want in his vocabulary, and that's largely due to how much he's accomplished at his longtime home on defense. 

"I've made more plays at safety than I've ever made at linebacker," Collins said. "I know what to read, I know how to play it, I know where I can cheat at, I know where to disguise it, I know how to make things work."

Well, for the foreseeable future, he's going to have to make things work elsewhere. The job you love and the job that's most practical tend to be two different jobs, after all.