Maliek Collins has never lacked any talent on the football field. The one nagging issue he’s had is getting injured, and they have always been to his lower body, which is difficult for a man his size.
After being drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft Collins would quickly find himself on the injury report. During the offseason conditioning program, he suffered a broken right foot that sidelined him for most of training camp and the preseason. Fortunately, he didn’t miss any games and had a very impactful first year on the field. He registered 5 sacks and helped the Cowboys become the leagues top-ranked run defense.
He would play through a strained left foot for a large portion of 2017, but just like his rookie year, he didn’t miss any games. He finished with 2.5 sacks as the Cowboys once again had a top 10 rushing defense ranking 8th overall.
2018 was rocky for the big guy to say the least. After fixing a stress ailment in his left foot in January from the season before, he would break the fifth metatarsal in the same foot in May which once again limited his availability during the offseason. It wouldn’t stop there, though, as he suffered an MCL sprain during a week 2 win against the New York Giants which caused him to miss three games, the first time an injury forced him to the sidelines during the regular season. In November, he suffered a knee injury against the Eagles but didn’t miss any games afterward. The Cowboys finished fifth against the run for the season.
Now that’s a lot of bumps in the road wouldn’t you say?
Collins is set to make just over 2 million in 2019 in the final year of his rookie contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 so it’s paramount to get his lingering injury issues under control as he tries to maximize his dollars going forward. So far in training camp, he’s looking rather healthy as the videos below indicate.
With his health seemingly in a good place, at least for now, he can focus on securing his role as a starter. Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill was selected in the second round of this year’s draft and is in direct competition with Collins for who will be the 3-technique (right of center) opposite Antwaun Woods, the starter at the 1-technique (left of center).
The Cowboys have stockpiled talent on the defensive line via the draft, undrafted free agent signings, and free agency over the last few years. The health of Collins is vital if this defense wants to finish in the top 10 against the run for the fourth year in a row. Hopefully, the injury gods are kind to him in 2019 as he tries to ink his name to a lucrative contract.