BEREA — Linebacker Jamie Collins’ 2017 season ended when his knee got twisted after he made an acrobatic interception against the Detroit Lions. He had surgery to repair the medial collateral ligament and missed the final seven games.
Collins appears to be back to his normal self, and a similar interception Friday in the intrasquad scrimmage is evidence.
Tackle Jamie Meder tipped a Baker Mayfield pass, and Collins went low to scoop the ball over the middle. It was Mayfield’s first interception of training camp.
Collins wasn’t done making plays. He broke up a Tyrod Taylor pass in the end zone intended for tight end David Njoku, who earlier had a 34-yard catch down the seam.
“The more that he practices, the more that we put him into those situations, the more plays that he will make,” said coach Hue Jackson, who saw a theme in Collins’ most recent interceptions. “He is an instinctual player. I think he sees the game a lot differently than everyone else. That is his skill set.
“Not that he roams or anything like that, I think within what we allow him to do is he has an idea of maybe where the ball is going and he is able to make those plays.”
Collins played only six games last year, missing three with a concussion. He finished with 31 tackles, a sack, the interception, three passes defensed and a forced fumble.
“That’s the Jamie we saw last year before he got hurt and when I first got here,” defensive end Myles Garrett said of the scrimmage. “So I expected nothing but great things for him, and that’s what he’s shown. He’s got that slow, I wouldn’t say goofy, but relaxed demeanor like I do. He can go out there and turn it on and be a big-time player.”
Collins will see a lot of time at defensive end, joining Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah along the front in passing situations.
“I think it will be a scary combination,” Garrett said. “We can be effective anywhere across the line, and then you sprinkle him in, it makes a combo that people have to watch out for.”
Starting defensive tackle Trevon Coley’s availability for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 against Pittsburgh is in doubt after he suffered a high ankle sprain this week. The dreaded injury usually takes four-to-six weeks to heal.
“That is one of those ankle sprains that they talk about,” Jackson said. “It is unfortunate. Those things happen.”
Jackson had a funny reply when asked if it’s a high ankle sprain.
“One of those whatever you call those things, those super-duper sprains,” he said.
Larry Ogunjobi will likely take Coley’s spot with the starters.
After squaring off against him for two practices, Garrett thinks Joel Bitonio can handle left tackle.
“I think he fits out there,” Garrett said. “I don’t think the change has really made him any less of a great player. I think he can go out there and handle any of the top rushers.”
Bitonio spent the first four years of his career at left guard but was moved to tackle Wednesday. He’ll continue to work against Garrett, who’s determined to prepare Bitonio for the battles he’ll see in the regular season.
“I know he’s going to be facing some quality rushers, and I know we have some of the best coming pretty soon in the season,” Garrett said. “So I know I’m going to give him everything I’ve got because if I do, he’ll be able to handle them. I don’t think there’s much difference between me and the guys at the very top.”
Kicker Ross Martin, who’s from Solon, has emerged as a serious candidate to take incumbent Zane Gonzalez’s job. His great camp continued with a 55-yard field goal in a two-minute drill.
“He is competing. The guy has made some really strong kicks,” Jackson said. “Yesterday, he was very consistent. He has done a nice job.
“We will take it all in as we evaluate. We are a long way from deciding who is on this team. Is he in the competition? Yes, he is.”
Defensive tackle Caleb Brantley stopped practicing with a quadriceps injury, but Jackson didn’t think it was serious.
** Free safety Damarious Randall was shaken up after a big hit on a receiver but returned to action.
** Rookie linebacker Genard Avery (groin), tight end Seth DeValve (quad), right guard Kevin Zeitler (calf), linebacker Justin Currie (concussion), offensive lineman Desmond Harrison (toe) and defensive linemen Daniel Ekuale (calf) and Lenny Jones (concussion) didn’t participate in the scrimmage.