To say that Maliek Collins was a little apprehensive initially about moving from the play-making under tackle position in the Dallas Cowboys defense to the 1-technique nose tackle spot is an understatement.
Collins, who had five sacks as a rookie last year, was supposed be the next Warren Sapp in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme. He had 2.5 sacks through the first five games before the sudden retirement of Stephen Paea prompted an adjustment in his role.
The Cowboys moved Collins from the pass-rushing tackle position to the run-stopping nose tackle position, where he lines up in the gap between the center and the guard, to get their four best players on the field in Sunday’s 40-10 victory against the San Francisco 49ers.
The 6-foot-7, 290-pound David Irving played the under tackle with Collins (6-2, 308) being the better fit at the nose along with defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford.
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“I am open to doing whatever needs to be done for us to be successful,” Collins said. “If that’s what it takes then I will do it. It’s different but I play it like the 3-technique. The 3-technique everything flows off of you. At the nose, you’ve got to flow off of everything else.”
The Cowboys are tailoring what they do at the nose to what fits Collins, allowing him to move and use his quickness.
Marinelli loved the early results and hopes to build on it Sunday against the Washington Redskins.
“I thought he was really explosive,” Marinelli said. “Oh boy, he was explosive. We do a lot of movement with the nose. You have to have big guys. Quickness. And I want explosion. He’s got really good explosion. So it allows us to get our four best players on the field at the same time.”