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Tommy Collins Training Camp Diary - Part IV


He didn't have any carries or catch any passes, but that's often the way it goes for fullbacks.

Even if he didn't light up the scoreboard, rookie Tommy Collins broke new ground in his football career last Saturday night when he made it into the Packers' preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.

In the fourth quarter he led the way for running back Herbert Goodman as the Packers fought their way out of their own end zone, putting together a five-minute, 45-yard drive that secured Green Bay's exhibition win.

In his previous training camp diary, Collins discussed the frustration of not getting to play against the Kansas City Chiefs in the lightning-shortened Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, August 4. In this edition, Collins describes what it was like to get into an NFL game, evaluates his play and tries to explain why he lost to linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer in a kicking contest.

Tommy Collins: So I finally got into a game. Canton was unfortunate for a lot of rookies, but in Atlanta we were able to step up and see what we could do. And we did well.

Like Coach Sherman said, our 2s and 3s really stepped up in the game and did a good job. It was really our chance to shine. It was our chance to show that we can play a role on this team, and most of the backups took that opportunity by the horns.

Obviously you always want to play better. I played decent, but I want to play a lot better next time than what I did Saturday. Thankfully, I only have to wait until Friday to do it. That's how the preseason is.

Being in the Georgia Dome was a really cool experience. Because I'm from Jacksonville, I had like 19 people of my family there in the stands. It was great to be able to make my NFL debut in front of basically my entire family.

The night before the game I saw a few of them at the hotel, but just for a bit. Saturday was game day, so you don't want to mess around with that. It's a business trip for us.

But they loved being at the game and watching me play. Everybody watches NFL football, and when you see those guys on TV there's a tendency to put them up on a pedestal. But afterward they told me, 'You look like you really do belong out there, and it will only get better from here.'

I feel like that, too. The Falcons game was my introduction to it, just getting thrown in the fire. There's only one way to go from here, and that's up.

To make this team, I think I have to take every little thing that the coaches say and turn it into production on the field. Doing what they ask you to do and then making big plays. It's only a 53-man roster and so special teams, offense, defense, whatever, you have to be part of getting this team to where it wants to go, or else you won't be here.

Saturday, I felt like I hustled really well. And I felt like I was blocking pretty good, too, although I definitely need to get lower on my blocks.

It's funny because you practice that during the week, but then when it comes to game-time some of those little things can kind of go away from you. You get into the game with the lights and the fans and you kind of lose focus of stuff like that and you go back to the things that got you by in college. That just doesn't work in the NFL.

But I still think the best thing I did was just making good blocks and staying excited out there. It was neat to be on the field for the final drive, getting the ball on the 1-yard line and moving it down the field to ice the game.

The biggest mistake I made Saturday was probably on kickoff. I got blocked and tripped up and went to the ground. There was a big return on the play, and even though it was a collective thing, it just doesn't look good when you get blocked on a big play.

I probably didn't need to make the tackle, but I needed to be in the right lane. Instead of taking on the block, I should have tried to avoid it. But I took on the blocker, got tripped up from behind and then went to the ground.

If I had stayed in my lane, they probably wouldn't have gotten such a big return. At this level, any little, tiny error can cost you.

But now I just have to learn from it, make myself better in practice and move on.

This week during practice Coach Sherman matched up the linebackers (representing the defense) against the fullbacks (representing the offense) in a field-goal kicking contest for an extra hour before curfew.

I wanted to snap, but Coach wouldn't let me because I'm a long-snapper here. So William Henderson did that and Nick Luchey was the holder.

I made the first kick from 25 yards, but I missed the second one from 30 yards. Hunter Hillenmeyer was kicking for the defense and after I missed the second one all the pressure was off of him, so he kicked his in and the defense won.

I had plenty of distance on mine (the second kick missed left), but I think Luchey was a little sketchy on the holds. As soon as I was about to kick it, he'd let go of the ball, so it was already on its way down when I was kicking it.

After the contest, I found out Hunter used to kick in high school or something. I made it easy on him by missing the second one, but a high school kicker, he'd better make that.

I'm kind of sorry that we lost, but it's cool when Coach does things like that. It gets the guys mentally together and it makes for a fun atmosphere out there. Football is our job, but it should be fun, too.

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