The Giants have two meaningless games left on their schedule. Lone Pro Bowler Landon Collins, dealing with an injured ankle, knows better, but he intends to play in both.
This New York Giants season has seen the end of quarterback Eli Manning’s consecutive games started streak, one that concluded at 210 games.
It would appear defensive stud Landon Collins is trying to start something similar on the other side of the ball.
The New York Giants safety, one of the few silver linings in a season gone horribly wrong, is dealing with an ankle injury as the Giants wrap up their season, an ailment that has already befallen several of his comrades, including receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall. Nonetheless, he intends to press on through these final two contests, beginning with Sunday’s visit to Arizona (4:25 PM, FOX).
“I shouldn’t play (these final two games). No, not at all. I should not. That’s the correct answer, but that’s not going to be my answer,” Collins acknowledged after Wednesday’s practice. “There’s always a danger. It happens, it’s the game of football. I know my health, I know where I’m at with it and I know my limitations.”
Since joining the Giants as a second-round selection in 2015, the Alabama alum has yet to miss a start, much less a game, in his first three seasons. That streak, currently at 46 games, appeared to be in jeopardy when Collins injured his ankle during the Giants’ 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on December 10, suffered while chasing down Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley.
Collins was listed as doubtful for last Sunday’s visit from Philadelphia, but nonetheless partook in the 34-29 loss, though he only played 18 of 68 defensive snaps (26 percent), forced to leave the game when he aggravated the injury. True to form, Collins expressed no regrets about suiting up for the game, saying he did so for his teammates.
“I wasn’t 100% at all. I just felt like my presence on the field would help my defense,” he said. “It kind of (helped) in the first half and I tried to just make it work from there. It was working until I tweaked it.”
The safety was the same way during last season’s push to the playoffs. With the Giants locked into the NFC’s top Wild Card slot entering their regular season finale against the Redskins, Collins, who earned Defensive Player of the Year consideration with a breakout campaign, made it clear he’d be playing in the otherwise meaningless visit to FedExField. He went on to pick up a team-high eight tackles, as well as a sack, in a 19-10 Giants win, one that eliminated their NFC East rivals from playoff contention.
“We’re putting the pedal to the metal. We are playing it like a playoff game, treating it like a playoff game and coming out and firing on all cylinders,” Collins said prior to that Landover visit. “That’s our mindset and we’re trying to get the W.”
Logic dictates that, with the Giants 2-12 and going up against two equally doomed opponents in Arizona and Washington, Collins should observe the remaining two games in street clothes. Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who has also been Collins’s defensive coordinator since his 2015 league entry, acknowledges that convincing Collins to do so will be easier said than done.
“I don’t know if he’ll let us. Sometimes you got to protect these guys from themselves,” Spagnuolo said prior to the Philadelphia game. “Don’t want him to go out there and get hurt any worse. We’ll do the right thing.”
In a more positive development, Collins was the lone Giant named to the NFC’s 2018 Pro Bowl squad on Tuesday, earning the starting nod at safety for the second consecutive season.
Collins acknowledged that the follow-up to his breakout year hasn’t gone as smoothly as anticipated, but he’s proud to be representing himself and the team in Orlando next month.
“It’s definitely hard work and after the season that happened, to get the honor off of the season we had, it’s a blessing and I appreciate that,” Collins said. “I come out there to play and I play for the love of the game. I guess everybody sees (my passion) and they love that about me.”
“I’d be proud of Landon even if he didn’t get the nod, to be honest with you, because I’ve told you he’s a warrior,” praised Spagnuolo. “He’s banged up with that ankle and other things and he’s still playing and still wants to go out there and play. He knows he hasn’t had quite the year he wanted to or any of us expected, but it certainly was good football and he loves to play the game and when he goes out there you can see it.”
Collins is not the only Giants veteran whose Sunday status is uncertain. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) and linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle) did not practice, nor did receiver Tavarres King, who left Sunday’s game with a concussion. Safeties Nat Berhe (hamstring) and Darian Thompson (knee) were limited, as were cornerback Brandon Dixon (heel/hamstring) and center Brett Jones (ankle).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490