A torn Achilles saw Landon Collins' 2020 season come to premature end in Week 7. Nine months later, he's made an unusually speedy recovery and is full go for Training Camp.
On the latest Washington Football Talk podcast, he caught up with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay and shared his perspective on the difference between Washington's defense entering this season.
"I think the biggest thing was trusting within the defense," Collins said, something the squad as whole struggled to do at the beginning of last season as they dug themselves into a 2-7 hole.
"Now, we have a fine understanding of the defense," he said. "Everybody is trusting one another and you can see it at the back end of the season, everything was clicking. We were making plays. We were getting off the field. We were even scoring on defense, so it was a pleasure watching that. So I already know it's just going to be another notch with everybody back on the field."
From the sidelines, he watched the defense's young prospects step up to lead the team out of one of the worst starts to a season in franchise history.
Rookie safety Kamren Curl, who replaced Collins after the injury, was among those who had breakout seasons.
"He took that opportunity and was blessed and did his thing and I was proud of him," Collins said. "We can switch it up and not a lot of eyes can be just on me...now you don't know who's coming, so it's a blessing in disguise."
Kurl, a 7th-round pick out of Arkansas, finished the season with 84 tackles, three interceptions and a touchdown to boot in just 11 starts.
Collins, a three-time Pro-Bowler (2016-2018) with the New York Giants, has confidence in his ability to make a greater impact than he's been able to in two underwhelming seasons with Washington. Entering year three on his six-year contract, the pressure to live up to the bill is mounting for the 27-year-old.
Just a few practices in, he already knows competition is going to be tight. Washington has tremendous depth in the secondary, but rather than worrying about his place on the field, Collins is more excited about the number of different looks this defense can give opposing offenses.
"I think our defense is going to be top-notch," Collins said. "We are a force to reckon with. We're giving our offense problems, our offense is giving us problems going back and forth. And the competition out there is A1. So as long as we got that, the sky is the limit."
Time will tell whether Collins can finally produce the type of season expected of him when he signed in 2019. But simply having another veteran leader to teach and compete against a young defensive unit should raise Washington's ceiling.