Zaven Collins more than ready to get going with new head coach
SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins saw exponential growth as the team’s MIKE backer in just his second season as a pro.
No longer stuck behind Jordan Hicks on the depth chart, Collins flourished as the defense’s quarterback in 2022, racking up career highs across the board despite dealing with a calf injury late in the season.
When it comes to who is running the show in the middle of the defense, it’s no longer a question. Collins earned that right and should be a candidate for the Cardinals’ captaincy in his third year.
But when it comes to running the show from the sidelines, that’s a whole other story.
“The offseason is going good,” Collins said ahead of the Annexus Pro-Am at the 2023 WM Phoenix Open. “I’m working out at the facility right now with (strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris). A bunch of guys are in seeing him every day. … Just working out and then about to see who the coaching staff is. I’m ready for that.
“I’m excited to see whoever it is. (Safety Budda Baker) and everyone expressed how they wanted it to be (defensive coordinator Vance Joseph) just because we’ve been around him. He’s a great coach for us. But whoever it is, we’re excited to have him.”
As of Wednesday, Arizona is down to just two finalists — Lou Anarumo and offensive-minded Mike Kafka — after owner Michael Bidwill opted to cast a “wide net” for former head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s replacement.
Joseph was among the many candidates for the vacancy but was reportedly told he was out of the running on Sunday.
For many defenders in Collins’ shoes, wanting to add the defensive-minded Anarumo would seem like a clear and obvious choice.
But when it comes down to it, Collins is just hoping for the right fit to turn things around for the organization in a hurry.
“It’s your defensive coordinator that’s calling everything for you,” Collins said. “As a MIKE backer, as long as I’m in touch with him, I think we’ll be fine.”