HOUSTON – Elevating over Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell, Nico Collins exploited the size mismatch with his superior leaping ability to deliver an acrobatic sideline catch.
The 6-foot-4-215 pound Texans second-year player, one of the biggest wide receivers in the NFL, delivered a 22-yard reception off a Davis Mills pass despite Campbell committing a defensive pass interference penalty.
“Davis trusts me, I trust him,” Collins said after a 13-6 victory that marks the Texans’ first win of the season. “Put the ball in the air, just go get it. Simple. Catch it at the highest point, and that’s what I did, and I made a big play for the offense.”
Collins’ play this season warrants increased involvement.
He has 15 catches for a team-high 272 yards and is averaging 18.1 yards per reception and is on pace to finish the season with 51 catches for 924 yards. He’s been targeted 27 times, catching more than half his targets.
Collins caught four passes for 65 yards against the Jaguars.
“Nico Collins is a big target,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “He can catch the ball. He can jump. We tried to get him more and more involved each week. He’s a tough matchup against defensive backs. So, we need to continue to do that.”
Drafted in the third round last year from the University of Michigan, Collins is already close to his rookie total of 446 yards and on pace to eclipse his 33 catches on 60 targets when he averaged 13.5 yards per reception.
Collins has the requisite size, speed (4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash), leaping ability and route-running skills and hands to be a higher-volume contributor as a complementary No. 2 presence working in tandem with veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
“Showcase it on Sunday,” Collins said. “Find the thing I need to work on the most and showcase my talent.”
Without disclosing too much about future game plans, Smith wants to increase the workload for Collins. Cooks leads the Texans with 24 receptions on 42 targets and has 235 yards and one touchdown. The Texans haven’t been able to strike deep with him, throwing a series of short passes.
Collins had a 58-yard catch against the Los Angeles Chargers, finishing with three receptions for 82 yards.
“I can’t start giving away game planning and all that, but just acknowledgement that Nico needs to be more involved,” Smith said. “When you’ve had the opportunity to go through five games, you kind of see and everybody is showing you who they are, and you have to go with it.
“Some, you really like what you are seeing, and maybe others you don’t like as much. Some need to get more reps. Some need to get less reps. That’s how we’re looking at it.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com