Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins isn’t having an ideal training camp. For some inexplicable reason, he’s fallen way down the depth chart and everyone is trying to figure out why. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure’s recent piece about Collins’ situation is something you should read. He lays out the various possibilities and solicits input from Collins himself as well as head coach Dan Quinn. Here’s an interesting excerpt:
There have been no whispers about the Falcons giving up on Collins [...] Collins was asked if he expects to be on the 53-man roster to start the regular season. "Yeah," he said. "I know everybody's out here trying to get better, and I know Coach has the team's best interest at hand. I'm just out here trying to help as much as I can.''
Let’s recap. This guy started in the Super Bowl, and six months later, he’s being asked whether he thinks he’ll make the team. First, as far as we know, he isn’t being disciplined. Second, the team hasn’t lost faith him, at least not publicly. And third, this may just be a deliberate effort to spread the available training camp reps around. All that said, Collins does seem a little frustrated. If this is only about training camp reps, then why is he frustrated? Wouldn’t the team clue him in? Instead, he’s acutely aware of what’s happening and it isn’t obviously his best case scenario, not by a long shot.
Collins obviously didn’t expect to keep the starting job once Desmond Trufant recovered. But objectively and empirically, Collins elevated the Falcons secondary last season. There’s no questioning his raw talent and ability to help this football team. You could’ve made a convincing argument before training camp that he’d cemented his role as the team’s third or fourth cornerback. But right now, the team isn’t seeing it.
Collins certainly has his bad moments, missteps we’ve labeled growing pains. But while the maturity questions persist, this fall from grace is sudden and unexpected, at least from our standpoint as fans. So is this a demotion or not? To be frank, I have no clue. The only people who can answer that question get paid good money to coach professional football.