We had so much fun doing our Countdown to Kickoff series last season that we decided to do it again. If case you’re new to the series, we’ll do a roster preview as we count down the days until the Chicago Bears September 7th season opener against the Buffalo Bills.
Next up in the Countdown to Kickoff series is defensive tackle Nate Collins. I liked the photo up top because it shows the #98, formerly held down by Corey Wootton, but also includes Nate Collins. Collins is switching numbers in 2014, going from the #93 he wore last season to 98. Let’s hope that isn’t the only change for Collins. I’m sure he’d like to see a change to a healthier season in 2014.
Collins had a rough season in 2013. First, he missed the season opener as he sat out a game for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and then had he season cut short with a torn ACL suffered against the Saints in Week 6. Despite the injury, the Bears saw enough of Collins to bring him back in 2014.
Collins was very disruptive in his short stint last season. Many times, I thought he looked like the best defensive lineman on the field, and that was next to former Pro Bowlers like Henry Melton and Julius Peppers. The stats don’t really show up to back up the claim, although he had his best game of the season against the Saints with a +2.4 grade according to PFF.
Collins will have plenty of competition along the Bears’ refurbished defensive line. He’ll have a veterans Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea and a couple of rookies pushing him for playing time. The added competition should push everyone to get better. The Bears will certainly need it as they ranked dead last against the run last season.
My expectations for Collins are to start the season as the starter, but he may cede to the youngsters as the season progresses. He’s a solid veteran who should provide reliable experience in the DT rotation.
Be on the lookout for our Countdown to Kickoff series as we continue to work our way to the season opener on September 7th.