Veteran defensive tackle Maliek Collins, an intense, aggressive interior defensive lineman, has been one of the few bright spots on the Texans’ 29th-ranked defense.
Signed to a one-year, $5 million contract, the former Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys starter has displayed a lot of quickness as an inside pass rusher. He has recorded 14 tackles, one sack, three tackles for losses and three quarterback hits.
“I feel like I can always do more,” Collins said. “I felt like I’ve shown improvement on the game to game basis, but I feel like I can always do more. I’m steady working at it. (Defensive line coach Bobby King), he steady keeping my honest, steady working me in different situations on how to improve and that’s probably it.”
The Texans’ defense, especially the run defense, needs shoring up, though.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, the Texans rank 31st in the NFL in rushing defense and are allowing 148.1 yards on the ground per game. During a 38-22 loss last week to the Los Angeles Rams, Darrell Henderson rushed for 90 yards and one score and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.
The Dolphins, led by Myles Gaskin, are averaging just 78.6 rushing yards per game. So, the Texans’ porous run defense could improve this week. His season-high is 67 rushing yards.
“Discipline, staying in our gaps,” Collins said. “Just everyone doing their job. Being more gap discipline. It takes all 11, that’s the part about stopping the run. It’s going to take all 11 in their run fits, everybody doing their job.
“Everybody in a dominant position with an arm free if you are an end or if you’re a three technique, you’re square in your gap instead of being turned. Just basic technical things that we practice and go over every day that it will take.”
Collins was flagged for unnecessary roughness for tackling Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray around the helmet when the diminutive quarterback ducked and made himself even lower to the ground. There wasn’t really anything Collins could have done differently.
“I’m going to keep playing aggressive, man,” Collins said. “I’m not going to do nothing out of the ordinary but when I get to the quarterback, I am going to tackle him the way I know how to tackle. Let’s hope there is not no penalties, try to stay off the neck and head area and hit him lower.”