Arizona Cardinals’ Zaven Collins ready for increased role if Jordan Hicks can’t go

Oct 16, 2021, 8:30 AM | Updated: 10:46 pm

GLENDALE, ARIZONA:  Linebacker Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals runs onto the field befor...

GLENDALE, ARIZONA: Linebacker Zaven Collins #25 of the Arizona Cardinals runs onto the field before the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 17-10. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Zaven Collins could be in line for added reps come Sunday against the Cleveland Browns depending on veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks’ availability.

Hicks is questionable for Sunday’s contest with a toe injury and did not participate in practice this week.

The No. 16 overall pick in 2021 has had a slow start to the season, totaling 10 tackles through the first five games and seeing sporadic playing time depending on the opponent.

Collins only played four defensive snaps (6%) against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 4 but appeared in 34 defensive plays (52%) against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5.

“I’m not anxious really. Last week I played some special teams on top of defense, had to fill some roles cause we had guys injured,” Collins said. “Last week I got winded almost, but it’s just push through and keep going. I look forward to it this week.”

Although the rookie was appointed the starting MIKE linebacker in the offseason, Hicks has assumed that role so far. Despite the indecisiveness, the relationship between the two has been a positive for the defense and continues to grow.

“With some of the packages we have, me and him are on the field at the same time most of the time,” the rookie said. “Continuously learning from him, being ready at any time because you never know when he is going to go down… I am excited, and if I can take on more, then I’m ready for it.”

If Hicks is unable to play, Collins will take on the brunt of play-calling duties. Fellow linebacker Isaiah Simmons could also serve as an added voice as he can play multiple positions including slot corner, edge rusher and middle linebacker.

“With Jordan having the green dot, we kind of duo it whenever were in the huddle or on the field together,” Collins said. “He’ll give me the call, I’m telling one part of the defense and he’s telling the other. If he is trying to set something over here, I’m trying to set something over here. So we kind of work in tandem together. It is nice and I’m ready to take over that role.”

The Cardinals (5-0) will travel to Cleveland on Sunday to take on the Browns (3-2) at 1:05 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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