Nate Collins excelled in Friday night’s preseason opener in Carolina after Henry Melton exited with a concussion, recording the Bears’ only sack and tying for the team lead with four tackles.
“Situations like that are going to happen during the year when guys are going to get banged up and you just have got to fill in and do what you’re supposed to do and I feel like that’s what I did,” Collins said. “I’ve got to keep it going. I don’t know when [Melton] is going to be back, so I’ve just got to be ready.”
Collins will look to build on his performance against the Panthers Thursday night when the Bears host the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field.
“I felt like it was good, but it’s one of those things you always want to be able to get after the quarterback and I felt like there were a few things I could have done better,” Collins said. “But that’s the beauty of the preseason. We get to get back out there Thursday night and hopefully I can get more looks.
“With Phillip Rivers being a passing quarterback and their team being more of a spread offense, I’m just trying to get out there and get to the quarterback and disrupt and do whatever I can to help the team.”
After spending his first two NFL seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010-11, Collins joined the Bears last year, recording 13 tackles in nine games. Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker worked with Collins in Jacksonville while serving in the same position with the Jaguars.
“He’s done a good job out here,” Tucker said. “He’s gotten better. I was very fortunate to have Nate in Jacksonville. I’ve seen the progress that he’s made and he has improved as a player. I think everyone will tell you that.”
It’s too early to say for sure whether Collins will emerge as a regular contributor this season, but he’s certainly making a strong early push.
“We’re still seeing what the roles are going to be,” Tucker said. “They’ll be defined at some point, and then there’s nothing ever set in stone. But so far he’s shown that he’s a guy that can help us. He can be active inside. He’s tough in the run game. He’s active against the pass and he continues to work hard. He’s not a guy that will sit back and rest. He’s really a go-getter out there.”
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