PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 13: Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles catches a pass against Jalen Collins #32 of the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
FLOWERY BRANCH — At the owner’s meeting in March, Falcons coach Dan Quinn sat down with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and went over his wide-ranging plan for the upcoming offseason.
He shared his hopes and goals heading into his second season as the coach with authority over the final 53-man roster. Quinn singled out six players he wanted to see make major progress through the team’s Plan D developmental program.
With the Falcons at 6-4 and on their bye week, let’s look at how the six players – defensive end/linebacker Vic Beasley, running back Tevin Coleman, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, cornerback Jalen Collins, wide receiver Justin Hardy and defensive back Robenson Therezie — have fared this season.
Here’s a quick look at the development of Jalen Collins:
The Falcons were hoping that Collins, a second-round pick in 2015, would compete for the starting right cornerback spot, but he was suspended for the first four games this season for using performance enhancing drugs.
Collins was inactive for three of his first four games back and was relegated to special teams duties. He was pressed into service when Desmond Trufant suffered a shoulder/pectoral injury against Tampa Bay.
Collins performed well in his third NFL start last week.
“For Tru to be out and for him to step into that spot, we thought he had a real solid game,” Quinn said. “He made some plays on the ball. I thought he was tackling physically.”
Collins finished with six tackles and one tackle for a loss against the Eagles.
“So for us, he kind of performed the way we expected him to,” Quinn said. “He used his length. He used his speed. As far as his performance after playing the whole game, we were pleased with him.”
Collins was a bit tougher on himself.
“I gave up two passes in the first quarter,” Collins said. “After that, I settled in. I felt like I did pretty good coming up to make tackles when they needed me. I felt it went pretty good, minus the loss.”
With Trufant’s status unclear, Collins may have to play more in the final six games.
“It’s just football,” he said. “It was just like practice out there. I was just trying to communicate with the guys and make sure everybody was on the same page. It wasn’t weird or anything like that. There were no nervous feelings out there for me. It was just ball.”
The Falcons are 6-4 at the bye and have a major issue to figure out moving forward. The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and Noah Coslov get into that and the Falcons place amongst the NFC’s best.
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