Zaven Collins Ready for Action After First Training Camp Closes

The rookie linebacker said he's grateful for offseason activities and training camp ahead of the regular season.

Cardinals rookie linebacker Zaven Collins expressed gratitude after his final practice of training camp concluded on Thursday. 

"It was a great first camp. It was good, smooth, (I) came out healthy. I think for the most part, everyone came out healthy. But I think it was a good first camp," Collins said.

Collins, Arizona's first-round selection in the 2021 draft, doesn't take his rookie experience for granted. 

Last season, COVID-19 precautions prevented a typical NFL offseason that allowed young players the ability to play catch-up before the season started. 

"It's very valuable. I couldn't imagine not having rookie OTAs and whatever mandatory OTAs (minicamp) before this like they did last year," Collins said. 

Photo: Alex Weiner, Sports Illustrated

"That'd be very, very hard as a rookie because there's just so much knowledge, so much information. Every yard counts, your position, your body on the field, that counts. So being here and having this (training camp), it's very helpful."

The Cardinals hosted training camp at State Farm Stadium, centralizing all of the team's activities at one location while being within a short distance of the team hotel. 

"Mostly all this being in house (has helped). Everything's right here in Glendale, that's pretty cool," said Collins. 

"It makes it very convenient with just doing nothing but football. It makes it nice."

With just one preseason game remaining before the start of the regular season, Collins feels as if he's comfortable leading the defense when games start to count. 

"I feel comfortable from many standpoints," said Collins. "From knowing the playbook standpoint, from a physical standpoint, to just a general standpoint of being out there (on the field)."

Collins doesn't discredit anybody on the depth chart, however. 

"Plus, our linebackers are really good. We have Tanner (Vallejo), Zeke (Turner), (Jordan) Hicks, all of us. So if for some reason if I was gassed or anything there's probably no fall-off, which is always a good thing. That's something that also makes you more reassured."

The play of Collins through training camp and preseason has generated excitement across the league. 

Teammate Budda Baker earlier this week said this is Collins' defense:

"With Zaven, it's (communication) definitely getting better. He's a rookie middle linebacker who has to kind of own the defense in a sense. It's his defense, he got to make the play calls, he's got to close the call," Baker said. 

Photo: Alex Weiner, Sports Illustrated

After discussing Collins' play-calling language on the field (open up to the sideline to get your play-calls out to the entire defense, kids), Baker commended the rookie linebacker on his progress through camp after going through initial growing pains.

"He's great. Doing the right close calls (for the defensive line), making the right corrections when he needs to. It's been going real good," said Baker. 

It remains unknown how much Collins will play in the team's preseason finale against the Saints. However, by all accounts, Collins appears ready for action when the regular season is underway.