If Landon Collins has played his final game in a Giants uniform, he left his teammates with a lasting impression.
The Giants safety, who was playing on an expiring contract, will undergo shoulder surgery to repair a partially torn labrum, according to sources, that will keep him out through much of the offseason. Collins suffered the injury in Sunday’s overtime win against the Bears but returned to the game and played through it, only for further testing to reveal the severity.
Collins knew he was playing without any guarantees about his future, but never let it affect his game in the eyes of his teammates.
“It just showed me that he loves football,” cornerback Janoris Jenkins said. “He wanted to be here, he was ready to play. … You always appreciate guys coming back, knowing that it’s their contract year. He just came out and played.”
Collins is expected to be facing a recovery time of four to six months, which could allow him to be back in time for OTAs — whose being the question.
Jenkins said he never sensed the contract situation weighing on Collins, who had played all but six snaps this season before missing 11 more after getting injured against Chicago.
“Landon showed up every day the same person — fun, great person to be around, happy, talkative, just being Landon,” Jenkins said. “Never in his head about [a] contract. But at the end of the year, business is business.”
Asked if he would like Collins back, Jenkins replied, “Who doesn’t?”
Collins said on Nov. 8 that he and the front office had not yet started talks about an extension to keep him a Giant, but has previously said he would like to stay. The Giants could try to work out a long-term deal or use the franchise tag on him for next year.
The 24-year-old was forced to think about the possibility of being in his final days as a Giant earlier this season, when he was the subject of trade rumors leading up to the deadline. He practiced on deadline day with it on his mind, he said, before the Giants decided to keep him.
Now, they will have to play the final four games of the season without one of their defensive captains.
“I wouldn’t want to play with anybody other than him at that position,” said veteran safety Michael Thomas, who will help fill the void along with rookie Sean Chandler. “He’s going to leave it all out there on the field. It sucks. I’ve been through it, a lot of guys have been through it — you got decisions to make about, ‘Do I want to keep going out there putting it on the line for my teammates, but also I got to think about my long-term career as well.’
“You don’t just replace a guy like LC.”
Last year, Collins missed the first game of his career when he broke his forearm and was forced to sit out Week 17. Now his season will end with an injury again.
Collins, whom the Giants drafted with the 33rd-overall pick in 2015, led the team this season with 96 tackles to go with five tackles for loss and a forced fumble. It was his first season without an interception after he recorded five in 2016, the first of his two Pro Bowl seasons.
The Giants used Collins all around the field this year as he took on a new role in first-year defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s system. He excelled in run defense while having some ups and downs in pass coverage, where he was often asked to shadow opposing running backs or tight ends.
“Landon displays what he is: He’s a very tough guy, very good tackler, he’s made a lot of plays for us, especially close to the line of scrimmage,” head coach Pat Shurmur said. “I’ve said it numerous times, in a sport where toughness is required, he’s got a lot of it, so that’s what I appreciate about him.“