Onto the next one: L.J. Collier ready to play up to 1st-round price tag with Cardinals
Aug 15, 2023, 5:47 PM
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
TEMPE — L.J. Collier traded in the blue and neon green for the red and white this offseason.
Following four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, a fresh start with a new franchise — albeit in the same division — was needed.
Nearly five months into signing a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, the veteran defensive lineman is feeling right at home in the desert.
“I came in with a different mindset of just like learn from your mistakes before from like your play and things that went on in Seattle and try to add onto those things and do better here,” Collier said Tuesday. “Just be a complete player, a more consistent player and show up when it’s time to show up.”
The last four seasons were anything but smooth for the 2019 first-round pick. He missed a chunk of time his rookie year (five games) and this past season (nine) due to injury. He lost playing time to former Arizona Cardinal Robert Nkemdiche in 2021 in the Seattle.
When his rookie contract ran its course this offseason, both sides agreed it was best to move on.
“Those are great people over there … it just didn’t fit for me. Just wasn’t my type of system, my type of place,” Collier said. “I tried my hardest to make it work but sometimes places and things don’t work out. So, onto the next one.
“I feel like I’ve made a home here and I think that I’m going to prove in the next couple weeks that I am worthy of the first-round pick that I was a couple years ago and we have a chance here to be great.”
Collier not only gets that much-needed change of scenery with a Cardinals team in the middle of its own reset, he gets a legit opportunity to make a real impact.
Losing both Zach Allen (signed with Denver) and J.J. Watt (retired) this offseason, multiple spots are up for grabs down in the trenches.
But if Friday night’s win over the Denver Broncos was any indication, Collier might already have a grasp on one of the roles.
Getting the starting nod in what could be a blueprint of the defense for the regular season, Collier — and most of the other starters — saw just seven snaps before being pulled.
In that limited action, Collier still managed to make an impact, batting down a pass from his former teammate in Seattle and current Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 12, 2023
“I’m five years in, I’ve proved that I can play,” Collier said. “Now, it’s about being consistent. Can I be a Pro Bowl-type player? Can I help an organization get to the playoffs? Can I be a showstopper? That’s what’s important to me.
“I have nothing left to prove to anybody but myself that I deserve to be here and that I can play at the highest level with the best.”