Nick Collins reported to Day 1 of the Packers' mandatory minicamp on Monday. There's no guarantee he'll report for Day 1 of training camp on Aug. 1.
Collins, the Pro Bowl safety entering the final year of his rookie five-year contract, skipped all but one day of the voluntary organized team activities as he seeks the security of a long-term contract. Asked if his presence at the minicamp meant that, if necessary, he'd play this season without a new deal, Collins replied: "That's out of my hands. I can't control what they think about me and what they're going to decide to do with me. All I can do is control what Nick Collins can control, and that's go out there and play football."
So, does that mean he'll be at training camp?
"We'll see," Collins said.
So, he's not ruling out a holdout?
"We'll see," he said again. "I'm here now, so we'll see."
Collins, who is due to make $3.045 million this season, was subject to more than $100,000 in fines had he skipped the minicamp. Would he have practiced without the monetary prodding?
"That's a good question," he said. After a long pause, he said, yes, he would have been at practice regardless.
Collins attended Wednesday's voluntary practice, watching the 25-minute jog-through segment before departing for the Don Hutson Center to work out in front of the training staff. But he was gone for the final two days of OTAs.
"Show up, show my face," Collins said. "Hey, I've been here a couple times. I've been up here a couple of times. I'm doing my part, like I said. There's a lot of things y'all don't know. We'll just keep it as that. That's for me, and you all to find out."
Coach Mike McCarthy said he met with Collins twice over the weekend and said Collins' "heart and mind's in the right place and he wants to play some football." McCarthy said he spent most of his time on Monday watching the offense, so he couldn't speak specifically of what he saw from Collins, but the coach didn't seem worried about where Collins is at physically and mentally.
"I know, visiting with Nick over the weekend and visiting with our training staff, they feel he's in good shape," McCarthy said. "Nick has always been a conditioned athlete for us; we've never had an issue there. So, I feel like he's on top of the physical part of it. He has a good understanding of the transition, from the verbiage change, so he has been spending time in his book. You can see that. It's definitely a challenge because of all of those reps that he had missed. He has to make that up. We're confident that he'll get that done."
Collins, who tied for the NFC high with seven interceptions last season, took all of the first-team reps and a lot of the second-team reps with Anthony Smith sidelined by a groin injury. Frequently after a play, Collins would turn around and discuss things with safeties coach Darren Perry, who seemingly was never more than a few yards away from Collins. There didn't appear to be any problems with Collins' positioning or his coordination of the defense.
"Do I look behind?" Collins replied when asked if he felt behind after missing the OTAs. "All right then, you just answered the question for yourself."
There's some sentiment that Collins, despite last season's accolades, could be in danger of losing his job had he fallen too far behind. Smith, who spent his first three NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is well-versed in the new defensive scheme, which is rooted in Pittsburgh's philosophies.
"I'm not worried about that," Collins said. "Do I look like I'm worried?"
Collins' smile was evident upon his arrival at practice. Between the contract and the death of his father last month, it hasn't been the easiest of times for him. Getting back on the football field meant this "humble kid" was getting back into his comfort zone.
"It went well. I had a great time, which is what this team's about," he said. "This is one of the greatest organizations that you can be around. The group of guys here, they're all about family. Right now, we're a family, and that's how we're going to go out there and approach this season: as a family."
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