Cardinals DC Vance Joseph Praises First-Round Rookie: ‘He’s on It’

Getty Images Zaven Collins participates in an off-season workout.

Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is entering his third season with the team. The young talent at linebacker is the best it’s ever been in his Cards tenure with Isaiah Simmons and now, Zaven Collins.

The first-round rookie linebacker had a day last week where he was discovering “growing pains”. Now, the defensive coordinator is charged up to have his talent on the field. Joseph was on with the Doug & Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7.

“Zaven has been humble,” said Joseph. “His football IQ and recall have been great. To have one extra linebacker that can win, it’s a plus, not a negative. As far as knowing what to do, he’s on it guys.”

Collins Starting From The Jump

It was a shock to many people when linebacker Jordan Hicks said GM Steve Keim told him he wouldn’t compete for the starting ILB job.

It’s more of a testament to Zaven’s ability and that first-round picks are picked to play early, Joseph says.

“You build your team through the draft,” said Joseph. “Drafting Zaven, we thought early he can play at MIKE linebacker. The maturity and football IQ is high. Not saying that Jordan Hicks can’t play, but having Zaven as a rookie and playing for us, that’s a good thing. It’s my job to find out who’s the best 11 to play for us.”

His athleticism and speed can’t be forgotten either.


Three Linebacker Package?

Cardinals reporter Darren Urban posted a camp summary on August 2 that was interesting.

We saw more of the three-linebacker-Hicks-Collins-Simmons package out there, and who knows? Maybe by the time games are played for real, Hicks will get to play like he wanted and some of the “drama” as Hicks called it will be a moot point.

Could we see this package against the Dallas Cowboys in their first preseason game? Sounds possible.

Joseph seems to think having Hicks on the field more often than not will benefit the team.

“Jordan Hicks is a very good football player. He’s been a 100+ tackle guy for two years. When you look at Fred Warner and Jordan Hicks’ stats in a two-year span, they’re very similar. He’s an important part of our football team.”

Joseph believes Simmons was the best defensive rookie at the end of last year, too.

Second-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Collins have been clicking and that should make every Cardinals fan giddy to hear.

Watt Update

There hasn’t been much news lately on the new addition to the defense line, J.J. Watt. But Joseph is clarifying that he’s been working his way into game shape.

“He’s fine. He’s got a slight hamstring and he’s working his way back. He’s a top-notch worker. It’s a long season. It’s 17 games. He’s played a bunch of ball, he’s been to meetings. He’ll practice and play. We haven’t seen him in practice. It will look different. No one has seen him other than me and Hopkins. It’s going to look special.”

The Cards brought back Corey Peters for a second time, signing him to a one-year contract. There wasn’t anywhere else that Peters wanted to end up.

Joseph is happy to see some competition between Peters and the projected starting NT on the unofficial depth chart, Rashard Lawrence.

“With Corey being in the mix, having good players is a good thing,” said Joseph. “We’ll see who’s starting Week 1. Having multiple nose guards who can squeeze blocks, having Rashad and Corey playing well that’s a good thing for the Cardinals.”

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