Last October, Washington Football Team safety Landon Collins was carted off the FedEx Field turf with a ruptured Achilles. On Thursday, less than 10 months removed from what is typically a career-altering injury for many athletes, the 27-year-old was back playing live-action football.
"It felt awesome to be back out there," Collins told NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay after the game. "Got my feet wet again, got the bugs out."
Collins played just 12 snaps during Washington's preseason opener against New England, around the same amount of playing time that most of the veteran defensive starters received. While the safety didn't record a tackle, just him being out there at 100 percent health is a remarkable accomplishment.
The three-time Pro Bowler admitted to some jitters as he took the field for the first defensive series on Thursday, but those quickly faded after the first snap.
"Once I got through that first play, it was [off] and running from there," he said.
Washington's starting defense played only two series on Thursday, but Jack Del Rio's unit quickly picked up where it left off.
On the Patriots' first drive of the game, Washington pass rusher Chase Young dusted by New England tackle Isaiah Wynn and hit quarterback Cam Newton for what appeared to be a fumble. However, the refs called the veteran quarterback's pass incomplete, something that didn't go over well with Washington's defense.
"That was a fumble. Cam was bringing it all the way down and he let it go when he came down," Collins said. "So that was definitely a fumble."
Del Rio's starters played just one more possession after that, a series New England's offense had a bit more success on. Newton was able to lead the Patriots' unit down the field before the group stalled in the red zone, leading to a 35-yard Quinn Nordin field goal.
"We started where we left off. But at the same time, we did our thing," Collins said. "A few minor errors, gotta correct some things. But at the same time, we went out there flying like we wanted to and made plays on the ball."