L.J. Collier will make his first career start in the Seattle Seahawks opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll revealed that Collier won the defensive end job over Rasheem Green. After beginning his rookie season with an injury, Collier had a shaky 2019 as the pass rusher appeared in 11 games.
“Carroll reiterates LJ Collier will start at strongside DE, though Rasheem Green will also play a lot,” The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta noted on Twitter. “But says Collier has earned chance to start.”
ESPN’s Brady Henderson added that the Seahawks offseason moves show how much faith they still have in Collier to perform at a high level.
“Said this before: the Seahawks’ belief in Collier has been evident in what they *didn’t* do this offseason — add a 5-technique DE in free agency or the draft,” Henderson tweeted. “Irvin, Mayowa, Taylor, Robinson are Leos. They’ll lean heavily on Collier and Rasheem Green on the other side.”
Collier Lost More Than 20 Pounds Since Last Season
The Seahawks selected Collier with the No. 29 pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. Collier was not pleased with his play last season and lost more than 20 pounds as part of the process to earn the starting job, per Pro Football Talk. Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. noted that Collier has “come a long way” since his rookie season.
“Really good growth,” Norton explained, per Pro Football Talk. “He’s come a long way. He understands the way we practice, he understands the scheme. Understands what his role is in the defense and what his responsibilities are. So I think he’s really going to take a lot of steps.”
Many were expecting the Seahawks to make a big splash in free agency by signing an elite pass rusher, but Seattle instead focused on making smaller moves. The Seahawks signed Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin who both spent time in Seattle early in their careers. Seattle struck out in their efforts to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney and were tied to Everson Griffen before he turned down their offer to join the Cowboys.
Collier on Rookie Season: ‘I Felt Very Disrespected’
The Seahawks are hoping Collier can recapture some of what they saw in his senior season at TCU when he notched 11.5 sacks and 42 tackles. No one wants that more than Collier who admitted that his rookie season did not go as planned.
“I didn’t have the type of year that everybody wanted me to have, so it kind of shifts you off to the side,” Collier said this offseason, per Seahawks.com. “I felt very disrespected. …I definitely wasn’t 100 percent but I got to a point where I could play. I felt there were times where I should have waited longer. But that was me. I wanted to get out there.”
Collier’s message ahead of this season was simple as the defensive end noted “it’s time to eat.”
“I’m the type of person where there’s no need for talking,” Collier added. “Just go out there and run through people’s face. You make noise and they’ll remember who you are very quickly. …I’m out there to prove that I’m one hell of a football player, and I’m going to show them that this year…It’s time to eat.”
The Seahawks need him to do just that, and Collier along with a revamped Seahawks pass rush get their first chance in Atlanta. Time will tell if the Seahawks’ gamble not to add additional pass rushers will pay off.