Last night on the NFL Network former Jayhawk Anthony Collins made his NFL debut starting at left tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals. Collins was placed into the starting role due to a couple of injuries within the Bengals organization but nonetheless was on the field from the opening whistle until the closing whistle as yet another reminder of what has been missing from this years Jayhawk squad.
I heard the news shortly before kickoff and took the opportunity to watch our old friend play against the #1 Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Collins was going to matchup consistently with Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison. Harrison on the year has recorded 12.5 sacks, two of which were from the first matchup early in the season against Bengals Levi Jones. How did Collins fair? For a rookie making his first start in a word he was exceptional.
Yes there will be room for improvement and his youth showed a few times on some of the Steelers blitz packages, but I focused on those one on one matchups and big Anthony Collins won those and won them convincingly. In the running game he consistently got a strong push and was moving down field, head on a swivel ready to make the addtional block. In pass protection he locked on his man and didn't budge. If there was any doubt in my mind how bad he was actually injured at the tail end of his KU career it was put to rest when I saw Collins moving on the field, fleet of foot and with a quickness we didn't see for the final 4 to 6 games of 2007.
As for Harrison, who many expected to have a big night against the rookie, he only logged 2 tackles and 0 sacks through the 60 minute contest. Anthony Collins drew praise on the NFL Network from Chris Collinsworth. He also drew mention on NFL Live from Mark "Stink" Schlereth, who is one of the more knowledgable, unbiased NFL guys in my opinion. It was an exceptional debut for the big man and while there is no doubt always room to improve it was good to see that yet another from the 2007 Orange Bowl squad looks to have a bright future in this league, although I would love if it were for someone other than the Bengals. Looks like "Mama's gonna eat" AC.