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Zaven Collins Looks To Spend A Little Time Outside

New Cardinals staff is working with inside linebacker out on edge

Zaven Collins has been working with outside linebackers.
Zaven Collins has been working with outside linebackers.

OK, so thinking Zaven Collins is suddenly going to provide the Cardinals a Chandler Jones-type threat off the edge isn't fair, for Collins or the team.

But a linebacker can dream.

"I definitely want to get after the quarterback a little more than I did last year," Collins said.

What Collins ultimately does for the new defense of coordinator Nick Rallis is an unknown. Even to Collins at this point, something the third-year veteran acknowledged. But of all the offseason work open to reporting, Collins has worked only as an outside linebacker after spending his first two seasons as an inside linebacker in Vance Joseph's defense.

It was also the position for which he was drafted.

But this is a new coaching staff and a new prism through which to view the 6-foot-4 Collins, who has added a little weight and is back up to his natural size of about 263 pounds. They see him as a player who can be on the ball and come off the edge, and this is the timeframe within which to see if it makes sense.

"It's his skillset of how he moves and what he can bring to the table from a coverage and rush standpoint, and in the run game," coach Jonathan Gannon said. "We're still defining that role as we speak."

It isn't as if Collins hasn't played on the edge in games. He did it about 30 percent of his snaps last season, but only on first- and second-downs, never in true passing situations. He notched his only two career sacks in 2022, both lined up at the line of scrimmage but not on the edge.

The change "is nothing crazy new to me," Collins said, noting that the entire philosophy of the defense has changed with a new staff.

Rallis raves about Collins' intelligence, going as far to say that sometimes he'd prefer to take Collins out of the meeting room at times so the conversations won't confuse the other players.

How the Cardinals deploy the rest of the edge rushers – Cameron Thomas, Myjai Sanders, rookie BJ Ojulari, Dennis Gardeck, Victor Dimukeje – will be interesting, and that's even before Collins is factored in.

Collins will do what is asked, however, and that seems to be trending toward playing with an edge.

"Sacking the Q is always a good thing," Collins said.


The Cardinals signed a pair of cornerbacks on Monday after a tryout. Bobby Price has played 22 games over the last three seasons with the Detroit Lions, while Dylan Mabin has played four games and spent time with the Raiders, Vikings, Saints, and Falcons. Both have size. Price is 6-foot-4, 208 pounds, while Maybin is 6-1, 195.