Giants hope to keep Landon Collins from hitting 'rookie wall'

Giants rookie safety Landon Collins, pursuing Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, is "coming along very slowly right now," said safeties coach Dave Merritt. AP Photo/Brad Penner

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants needed rookie safety Landon Collins to start and play well. But just because they needed that didn't mean Collins was guaranteed to deliver.

"Rookie," Giants safeties coach Dave Merritt said when asked to assess Collins' performance so far. "In a college season right now, it would probably be over. So he's having to hit that second gear and try to get this thing going. Right now, as a rookie, to go through the NFL as a starter, to see all of the concepts and the speed of the game, he's coming along very slowly right now."

Collins' playing time has been down a bit in recent weeks as the team has used veteran Craig Dahl more at safety with Brandon Meriweather. That has to do with Dahl's ability to handle a variety of assignments, but it also has to do with Collins' understandable rookie struggles.

"The game is fast mentally for him still," Merritt said. "Hopefully he can continue to progress and move toward the player that we all know we have in him. You hit that little rookie wall or whatever it may be. I don't see him doing that, but at the same time, having a new scheme and trying to make sure every week there's a little tweak here and there, he has to be able to pick those things up."

The Giants may continue to back Collins off if they fear they're overloading him. They ask a lot of their safeties in terms of pre-snap reads and responsibilities, and as the season goes on and the week-to-week changes pile up, they may have reached the point of diminishing returns. That doesn't mean he can't play or help them the rest of the way, but they may have to pick their spots with him until he catches up.

"There's cloudy and there's clear," Merritt said. "If it's cloudy at all in his mind, then he's going to move a little slower. But if it's clear, he's going to be able to go forth and go fast. When these offenses are shifting in motion and adjustments, and the things you have to take care of in your own defense, it'll definitely pay off for him in the future. Hopefully the future is in two weeks from now."