Allen Park — For most of us, it’s inconceivable to give up $200,000 for a few days of work, but Detroit Lions linebacker Jamie Collins had a good reason. Instead of showing up for voluntary OTA practices the past couple of weeks, and securing a workout bonus built into his contract, Collins opted to stay home and spend time with the his newborn son, Jackson.
“As much as I wanted to be here, it was hard just leaving,” Collins said after the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday.
Fortunately for Collins, even following the team’s coaching staff change this offseason, his job is secure. The veteran linebacker who recorded 101 tackles last season, figures to be a key piece in the new defensive scheme, led by first-year coordinator Aaron Glenn.
A couple of weeks back, Glenn talked about his excitement to work with the versatile Collins, who he expects to deploy in a variety of ways.
“I had a little success getting to the quarterback (in the past),” Collins said. “So he’s using me in that way. I can do it. Getting to the quarterback, you know, that’s a big deal. If you can get to the quarterback, that’s a major key to success. I feel like I can do that. He’s putting me in position to do that. So I’m looking forward to the challenge. Obviously I’ve been inside (playing linebacker) the whole time last year, but it’s opportunities to get to the quarterback, once you have those chances, man, it’s major if you can do that. And I’m looking forward to it.”
Collins barely rushed the passer in his first season with the Lions, tallying one sack and six total quarterback pressures, despite playing 829 defensive snaps across 14 games. The season before, with New England, he racked up a career-best seven sacks, spending much more time lining up along the line of scrimmage.
Farewell to a former coach
Lions coach Dan Campbell opened his virtual press conference on Tuesday by sharing some thoughts about former coach Jim Fassel, who died Monday.
“I played for Jim and the Giants when I was there,” Campbell said. “I was drafted by him. I was there for four seasons with him. Just a number of things come to mind, but first probably just the people that he surrounded himself with, from the coaches to players. …We had a good locker room, and that was a credit to Jim.”
Campbell particularly reflected fondly on a three-season stretch from 2000-02, which included playing in New York during 9/11, as well as the team’s Super Bowl run a year earlier. In 2000, the Giants rebounded after a midseason stumble to win the NFC East division and make a run all the way to the Super Bowl, before falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the championship matchup.
“it was a special season,” Campbell said. “We rallied. It’s a credit to Jim.”
Fassel coached the Giants from 1997-2003, leading the franchise to a 56-53-1 record, three playoff berths and the Super Bowl appearance. He last coached in the NFL in 2006, serving as the Ravens offensive coordinator. He went on to be the head coach of the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League from 2009-12.
Fassel was 71 years old.
Almost everyone accounted for
The Lions nearly had full participation for the first day of minicamp. Only rookie linebacker Derrick Barnes, cornerback Jerry Jacobs and linebacker Austin Bryant weren’t on the field.
Barnes and Jacobs did some work on the side with a member of the team’s training staff, while Bryant wasn’t spotted during the outdoor session. The third-year linebacker was also absent during last week’s OTA practice open to the media.