Pittsburgh’s defense will look slightly less intimidating this season, but it’s expected to be even more dominating.
Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter on Monday revealed that rookie first-round draft pick T.J. Watt and third-year linebacker Bud Dupree will get the nod as starters while veteran linebacker James Harrison serves as backup.
“We have two guys who are first-rounders, we drafted them for this,” Porter told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . “Now you have to turn them loose and let them play.
“Because you want to play against the best to be one of the best, and he is one of the best out there,” Collins said. “You want to play against the best to prove yourself as a defense, as a whole, so you don’t have to deal with the backlash of, ‘if this person wasn’t here and that person wasn’t here’.”
Last year, Elliott looked nothing like a rookie for the Cowboys. He rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. The 2016 first round pick’s emergence was a major reason why the Cowboys surprised many en route to an NFC East division title.
The fact that he will miss the first six games of the season for the Cowboys certainly sees his team come down to earth a little bit, his suspension likely hurting their chances to repeat as division champions.
Collins was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowl selection in 2016 for a Giants team that made the playoffs and finished second in the NFC East. While he isn’t relieved that Elliott won’t be on the other side of the ball come Week 1, he admits that the running back’s absence is a big deal.
“It’s a big difference. He’s the difference maker of that team. He kind of just sets the tone of the offense and they are definitely handing the ball of to him on first down to set the tone,” Collins said. “He’s a big difference maker for them.”