Landon Collins a perfect fit for hybrid role with Giants


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Landon Collins likes to call himself a hybrid: someone who can play both linebacker and defensive back. Someone who can track the ball through the air, with instincts to still stuff plays closer to the line of scrimmage.

But during a recent defensive meeting, Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale wanted to clarify something for Collins.

“I told him not one of those, whatever those little hybrids are,” Martindale recalled. “It’s gotta be a sports car hybrid if he’s such a thing.”

When asked by The Post about that exchange, Collins laughed, and said Martindale specifically referenced a Cadillac model in that Thursday meeting — “old-school” cars, which are “basically the OGs, but you’re fast.”

The exchange captured the relationship Martindale has formed with Collins since he was signed to the Giants’ practice squad in October. Martindale understood Collins’ skill set from the first day he arrived, Collins said, allowing him to play freely. And the 28-year-old veteran, part of the Giants’ most recent playoff team in 2016, has parlayed that opportunity (in his second stint with the team) into a spot on the 53-man roster and a return to the postseason.

Landon Collins runs during the Giants’ win over the Commanders.

“He was in a very humbling position coming here, coming back to New York,” Martindale said. “The thing that you see about that is that he kept working, kept working, kept working. … It just goes to show you that you keep working, you keep battling, you keep trying, eventually, you’ll break through. I’m really happy for him.”

That breakthrough came Sunday, when Collins returned an interception for a touchdown in the Giants’ playoff-clinching win over the Colts. But the buildup started with each of his three elevations from the practice squad, and continued with the spot on the 53-man roster after his third promotion against the Commanders. In five games, Collins has recorded 12 combined tackles, a sack and two passes defended.

Martindale said he “selfishly” wanted to get Collins elevated against Washington, for which he played from 2019-21, on Dec. 18. During that game, safety Julian Love noticed the “juice was back.” Collins had three combined tackles on a mix of both defensive and special teams snaps.

Martindale has allowed Collins to be himself, embracing his instincts and avoiding turning him into a “robot,” Collins said. That freedom from Martindale is unique, Love added, because not every coach does that.

Gradually (and more frequently in recent games), Collins has flashed his ability to maximize that trust.

“[Making the playoffs]] obviously means a lot to [Collins], and it means a lot to this team to have him here,” Love said. “He’s an experienced vet who still plays at a high level. Just having him has been a real game-changer for us.”

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