To say we were high on Nico Collins last off-season is a bit of an understatement. In his second year of OTAs, mini- and training camp, Collins hasn’t done much to quench that fire.
It certainly seems like he’s poised to improve on his first year’s performance.
By the end of his rookie campaign, Collins’ stat line included eight starts, 14 games played, 33 catches for 446 yards, a 13.5 yard per catch average and the lone touchdown.
Nico Collins Breakout SZN pic.twitter.com/aPvZ3juPV4— Drew (@IndepthTexans) August 16, 2022
Collins has not only been learning from Houston Texans legend Andre Johnson, he’s been emulating the great Dre’s work ethic as well.
Nico Collins has consistently worked after practice throughout camp— Jayson Braddock (@JaysonBraddock) August 16, 2022
Here he is with Dylan Thompson after practice today pic.twitter.com/pvy7ycULeV
Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton
We should be able to feature Nico in situations where it’s man coverage, where he can use his body, his size, his God-given ability to make plays.
Derek Stingley vs. Nico Collins pic.twitter.com/YtgrZ3PH6g— Seth C. Payne (@SethCPayne) August 10, 2022
Now, for Collins to truly excel, he’ll need the team around him to do better, try harder, and work more fluidly than they did in 2021. Football is a team sport, after all, and if the team around you doesn't get the job done, it’s nigh impossible for you to do it either.
First off, he’ll need the confidence OC Hamilton has shown in him to continue; or else Collins won’t hear his name called in the huddle.
Then he’ll need the offensive line, particularly center Justin Britt, to do better. Fellow second year player Davis Mills can only take so many shots and if Britt can’t anchor the pocket better, Mills won’t have time to find Collins and launch darts at him.
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil is an excellent pass blocker, so Mills won’t need to worry much about blindside pressure. However, Tytus Howard is in the right tackle spot - finally - and might take a hot minute to really settle in.
But if those three linemen can do their jobs well, whomever the Texans rotate in and out at guard will have a much easier time helping to keep Mills upright long enough to throw the ball.
Rookie running back Dameon Pierce has a lot of folks buzzing about his potential, especially after some highlight reel moments in the preseason opener last weekend against the New Orleans Saints. But, behind Pierce is a who’s who of two-yard loss runs waiting to happen.
Without a solid run threat, a wide receiver’s job is much harder.
No one should have any illusions that Collins and the Texans are going to compete for a Lombardi this season, no matter how well the offense performs.
But, that performance will certainly affect Collins and Collins will certainly affect the number of winning moments, if not games, in 2022.