HOUSTON — Nico Collins lined up on the line of scrimmage with defensive back Steven Nelson during Tuesday's Houston Texans' training camp practice. Collins beat Nelson on a go route and proceeded to complete a reception over the top of the veteran defensive back.
After practice, coach Lovie Smith spoke on Collins' development by mentioning that the second-year wide receiver will be a matchup nightmare for opponents. But Collins' play against Nelson illustrated how he has successfully stacked days to make a significant leap for the Texans in 2022.
"You have to count every opportunity you get because everybody doesn’t get this opportunity," Collins said on Wednesday. "Every time I step on this field, I’ve got to thank God every day. You’ve got to come out here, you’ve got a great job, you’ve got to love it."
During the first week of training camp, Collins left an impression that he could take the helm as the Texans' top receiver.
With Brandin Cooks on the roster, Collins may fall short of cracking 1,000 receiving yards. But Houston's passing game will not be a one-person band parallel to 2021.
Cooks served as the Texans' lone reliable option in the passing game last season. He was the only Texan who recorded over 500 reception yards, as he finished the season with over 1,000 yards (1,036) for the sixth time in eight years.
But given Collins' development, Cooks will have a dependable partner this coming year in the wide receivers corps.
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Collins believes his first NFL season was a learning curve. He finished his rookie campaign with 446 yards on 33 catches and one touchdown after the Texans drafted the Michigan alumnus in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now, ahead of his second year, Collins says he is using his stature more when competing on the gridiron, which resulted in him winning his one-on-one battle with Nelson.
Second-year quarterback Davis Mills acknowledges Collins' 6-foot-4 frame and athletic abilities make him a trustworthy pass-catchers.
"I think he's had his moments throughout," coach Lovie Smith said. "Everybody can notice him more when you get in a more condensed area down in the red zone.
"He's a big guy. He can block. He's got good speed. As you can see, he can jump. He's a perfect complement, also, for WR Brandin Cooks.”
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