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Landon Collins becomes leader of Giants’ D but takes nothing for granted

Landon Collins #21 of the New York Giants

Landon Collins #21 of the New York Giants celebrates an interception early in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Landon Collins has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice this season. He’s been talked about as a potential Pro Bowl player, maybe even an All-Pro. His play even has allowed his name to creep into conversations for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year (one offshore betting website gave him 6-to-1 odds to win that award, the same as the Rams’ Aaron Donald).

But if he’s looking for a slap on the back from his position coach, he’ll have to wait.

“One of the things that I tell all the guys is that I’m not going to praise you,” Giants safeties coach Dave Merritt said on Friday. “Just like my golf swing, once you give me praise — ‘Oh, man, that’s a great shot’ — next thing you know, I shank it in the woods. So I’m not sitting here praising these guys. I tell them all the time: ‘Until we’re on that float and see the confetti coming down, right now, guys, we haven’t accomplished anything.’ ”

That’s not to say Collins hasn’t impressed Merritt in the first half of his second NFL season. Collins has four interceptions and three sacks and leads the team in tackles. He’s also — at age 22, with one full season of experience — become a leader of the secondary and the defense as a whole.

“Number one, the kid is committed,” Merritt said. “Film studying, he’s coming into meetings with good questions and doing a great job at accepting his role and any role we put him into. The next thing is, the kid is working hard. He’s kept his weight down; he’s hovering right around the 215 mark, which has been great. Therefore, he can continue to run and play fast the entire game. And again, he’s trusting the system. That’s what I attribute it to. He’s done a good job as a first safety for us.”

“He’s looking good,” former Giants safety Deon Grant said. “He’s looking like an All-Pro safety right now . . . At his age and just as far as how many years he’s been playing, yes, he’s one of the best young safeties.”

Grant has helped Collins develop. So, too, has another former Giants safety, Antrel Rolle.

“ ’Trel and myself have conversations with Landon,” Grant said. “We realize that he has that mindset of being great, and it shows.”With Bob Glauber


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