Zaven Collins tallies Cardinals’ 1st, 2nd turnovers of 2023

Sep 10, 2023, 11:17 AM | Updated: 6:42 pm

Zaven Collins, Arizona Cardinals linebacker...

Arizona Cardinals LB Zaven Collins (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

It’s clear the Arizona Cardinals will have a pass rush by committee feel in 2023.

With so many bodies, first-year coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis at least can create chaos by using the different pass rush styles to their advantage.

As a whole, the pass-rusher had direct contributions to three first-half turnovers as the Cardinals led the Washington Commanders 13-10 at halftime of the teams’ 2023 opener. The trend continued throughout, but the Cardinals offense couldn’t drum up enough points in a 20-16 loss during Gannon’s head-coaching debut Sunday at FedEx Field.

Among the new faces in that pass-rush group is third-year pro and 2021 first-round pick Zaven Collins, a converted inside linebacker.

He got not only the first but also the second defensive turnover for Arizona’s 2023 season.

With the Cardinals trailing 7-3 in the second quarter and the Commanders just starting their third drive, Collins feigned rushing Washington quarterback Sam Howell and, like he did more in last year’s role, dropped into coverage. He spotted up in a zone and had the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time.

Arizona defensive lineman Kevin Strong got a piece of Washington quarterback Sam Howell’s pass and Collins reeled the duck in.

Collins wasn’t done there.

Chasing down a play on the next possession, with Arizona down just 7-6, Collins landed on a loose football when fellow outside linebacker Victor Dimukeje punched out Antonio Gibson’s carry at the Arizona 19-yard line.

Collins and Dimukeje joined a deep and multiple-look pass-rush group in Gannon’s first game leading the Cardinals along with Cameron Thomas, Dennis Gardeck, BJ Ojulari and Jesse Luketa. All of those outside linebackers played in the opener.

In the final minute of the first half, Gardeck spun off a blocker and punched the ball out of Howell before Thomas jumped on the loose ball in the Commanders’ end zone for a go-ahead touchdown making it 13-7.

Gardeck led the Cardinals with three quarterback hits and two sacks.

The Commanders scored a field goal as the first half ended, then added a touchdown in the second half after an Arizona turnover.

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