Landon Collins doesn’t get the satisfaction of a big hit in training camp. He has to settle for a nod.
That’s what wide receivers such as Odell Beckham Jr. give him when they catch passes in front of him during Giants practices, knowing full well that had it been a game against an opposing player they would have gotten clocked.
“It’s tough,” Collins said of going against instinct and not hitting teammates, especially ones such as Beckham who are so valuable to the Giants. “I tell them all the time, especially our receivers. You can’t tackle them, you can’t touch them. You try to keep them up and keep them safe every single play. So when they run across the middle or other things and I’m coming downhill on them, I just tell them that whatever quarterback was throwing the ball put you in a bad situation right there.”
Collins said the key is to work on footwork and other details besides the hitting when covering in practice.
“Technique beats talent every day,” he said of trying to improve that area of his game, along with the rest of the secondary that takes a hands-off approach.
There are a few exceptions. Eli Apple battled for a ball along the sideline with Beckham on Tuesday which resulted in Beckham hitting the ground. And on the first team play of practice on Tuesday, linebacker B.J. Goodson gave a solid thump to Sterling Shepard sending him down. Shepard got up and seemed miffed by the level of physicality.
“It’s understood,” Collins said of the balance between full-speed hits and tackling and practice pace.
Understood by both sides. The receivers know they have immunity here in training camp but that once the games start it will be a different story.
“Odell looks at me and kind of gives me a head nod and I give him a head nod back,” Collins said of the moments after plays in which a collision is avoided.
For now, that’s enough.