When Tony Romo said on Wednesday that he will be looking for certain matchups he likes in the Giants' secondary Sunday night, Landon Collins wasn't named specifically. But the rookie safety has been around long enough to know Romo was talking about him. So Collins said Thursday that he'd welcome an entrance exam to the NFL from one of its premier passers.
In fact, he had his own message, and this time he didn't hedge in terms of whom he was talking about.
"He's going to pick on me, he's not going to get what he wants," Collins said. "He comes toward my way, he won't be happy."
That's pretty brash talk for a player who has never seen a regular-season snap in the league.
But that's exactly what the Giants drafted Collins to bring to the team. He's helping to replace Antrel Rolle not only on the field but as the team's sergeant of swagger.
"I'm definitely confident in myself," Collins said. "If he comes after me early, it'll be better for my side so I can get on, get the kinks out and know what I'm going against."
Collins said he laughed when he first saw the Romo comment.
"He's the best, so he can say what he wants," Collins said. "I'm a rookie."
So of course he expects teams to try to figure out what he's capable of early in the season.
"Obviously, there are matchups I'll be looking for," Romo had said when asked about the Giants' inexperience at safety if Collins and Cooper Taylor start.
"I'll look on tape and figure out where we want to attack and we'll go out and hopefully try and do that."
Collins may be a rookie, but he's probably played in more big games than a lot of his more veteran Giants teammates. As a four-year player at Alabama, he was perennially in win-or-else games while fighting for a national championship.
"I've played in games where it can make or break your season," he said. "It's the same thing, only it's the beginning of the season now. I'm not really nervous about it."
Tom Coughlin might be, just a bit. "Any time there's the potential of the ball in the air, and you're not in the right spot, it's pretty serious business," the coach said. "There's a lot to be prepared for."
But he added: "Oh, I'm confident in him. You bet I am."
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said he likes what little he's seen from Collins in the preseason, but he stressed how little it has been.
"A guy coming in needs to get a thousand reps, and he really hasn't had any," he said of Collins, who missed two weeks with a knee injury in the middle of training camp. "It'll be a baptism by fire."
Collins has come through those before. He remembered his first start at Alabama, in which he returned an interception for a touchdown, forced a fumble and had a half-dozen or so tackles against Tennessee.
Might his debut in the NFL go the same way?
"Maybe," he said with a smile. "We'll see."
Perhaps Romo will play a role in determining that as well.