Rookie LB Zaven Collins could see playing time at OLB

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Rookie LB Zaven Collins could see playing time at OLB
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The Arizona Cardinals have lost two outside linebackers this week to the COVID list. Markus Golden is a starter and Devon Kennard is a rotational player. Both are important to the Arizona defense.

Their absence this weekend will change things. Chandler Jones will play, but they only have Dennis Gardeck and Victor Dimukeje at the position. Gardeck has only really played a specific role on defense in the Cardinals’ speed package with five linebackers on the field. Dimukeje is a rookie and has really only played on special teams.

This could give rookie Zaven Collins the opportunity to play.

Collins, an inside linebacker and the team’s top draft pick this year, has not played a single snap on defense in the last three games and has only three snaps in his last five games.

That could change. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said he could be used at outside linebacker.

“Zaven could have a role as an outside backer this week,” Joseph said Thursday. “We’ll see how the week goes. He’s worked there all year, so it won’t be a new role for him.”

Collins certainly has the size to play off the edge at 6-4 and 260 lbs. But we have not seen him yet in that role all season.

What is more likely is that Isaiah Simmons gets significant time at outside linebacker. If that is the case, then Collins could see time at inside linebacker at the “Mo” position where Simmons plays. It is also possible that Collins still rides the bench and Joe Walker plays in Simmons’ place inside.

“We’re going to continue to work him in at practice and develop him,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said earlier in the week. “I expect that to happen at some point. He’s been studious, he’s worked at it, we just have some really good players in some of those positions.”

If Collins is going to get playing time, this week is as good an opportunity as any.

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