Ray Horton has big plans for newly acquired linebacker Jamie Collins Sr., and he’s confident the Pro Bowl talent can handle the task sooner rather than later.
The athleticism and versatility is apparent, but what’s impressed Cleveland’s defensive coordinator the most is Collins’ “football IQ,” which has been tested in recent days as Collins transitions from New England’s hybrid 3-4/4-3 to “a new language” with the Browns.
“On the outside it appears to be an easy transition for him,” Horton said. “We are going to ask a lot of him and obviously see what he can handle, but so far, I have been really impressed with his smarts and his savvy and athleticism on the field and really off the field, too, of just learning something and not hesitating to translate it in his mind.”
The Browns, both from a coaching and players perspective, expect Collins to be a significant contributor Sunday against the Cowboys. Though he primarily played on the inside with the Patriots, Collins is poised to placed “all over” the defense, as Cleveland seeks its first win of the season against a dynamic, balanced Dallas offense.
Horton will have a new, key piece at his disposal as he devises a plan to stop a team that boasts one of the best offensive lines he’s seen in years.
“He is a joy to watch move around on the football field,” Horton said. “He gives you the ability to do a couple things and put different people on the field, different packages because you have to account for him to be different places. I would not say he is necessarily just going to be just an inside guy for us.”
Horton said Collins’ attitude since the trade has been “outstanding,” a reflection of Collins saying Wednesday he’d processed the transaction in 10 minutesbefore shifting his focus toward how he could help the Browns. His new teammates, particularly Christian Kirksey and the rest of Cleveland’s linebackers, have made him feel welcome from the moment he arrived, and Horton has taken notice.
The reasons, he said, are multiple.
“He fits in because what he does on the field first of all, and then how bright he is,” Horton said. “Obviously when you get a good player, you want to acquire talent. You can’t fool players – players know talent when they see it. They see it across the field, they see it on the film, and then now they see it in the huddle with him, and so, sure, we are going to embrace him because we are trying to get better players, more talented players and put a better product on the field.
“This is a great step in that direction.”
As Cleveland wrapped up its on-field preparations for the Cowboys on Friday, players and coaches alike agreed on the impact Collins has already made and the one they can’t wait to see as soon as Sunday.
“Those kind of guys when they are on the field, they kind of raise everybody else’s intensity and how you practice because the guy is a Pro Bowl player,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He has been there and done it. I think our guys like being around him, like practicing with him and like being with him, and now, they have to go play with him. He has been fun to watch.”