Panther-lair - Collins on the DBs, Paris Ford and more
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Collins on the DBs, Paris Ford and more

MORE HEADLINES - Video: Narduzzi on the first day of spring camp | Slideshow: The first day of camp | Spring camp video: QBs on the first day | News and notes from the first practice| PODCAST: Getting ready for spring camp

New Pitt secondary coach Archie Collins liked what he saw from his group on Day One of spring camp, and here's what he said to the media after practice.

What are your first impressions of this group that you have to work with? Obviously there are a lot of young guys and guys who can play different spots - what are your early takeaways?
Collins:
I’ll tell you what: young is good, because that means they’re able to continue to keep developing, keep growing, things of that nature. And they’re all competitive guys, very athletic guys, so it’s been a pleasure working with them today.

What’s the first thing you want to instill in them about your style?
Collins:
Going and getting the ball. I like getting the ball. Competing, playing with toughness, tackling, playing with a lot of effort, juice, having a lot of enthusiasm. Those are things that are core values for me, so that’s what I expect them to play like.

Do they seem to have some of that in them?
Collins:
Oh, it’s in them right now. My job is to continue to bring it out of them. Like we talked about earlier, they’re young players, so with them being young, they’ve got a lot more to pull out of them. That’s what I like to do: keep pulling the best out of them.

Do you feel like they’re ready to impress the new coach?
Collins:
I think they’re ready to play football. I think they love the game of football. That’s what I saw: guys that are flying around here because of the love of the game. The coach is going to bring a different dynamic but first you have to have a love of the game, and that’s what I think they’ve got.

Paris Ford is a guy who is a local kid, had a lot of intrigue around him, sat out last year, played safety, now corner - did you have some input on that move to corner? And what have you seen out of him?
Collins:
I’ll tell you what: I think whenever you have the ability to play corner and safety, it tells of the amount of athleticism that you have. So that’s the first and foremost thing. With him being such a great athlete, I think he can play both positions. I think we’re going to work him out at [cornerback] currently right now, but he could possibly even go back to safety. None of that matters currently right now; right now is showing your athleticism, showing your ability to make plays and everything will take care of itself.

Has he shown any of that to you?
Collins:
Shoot, he had about two or three picks today, so again, he’s got to continue to work on some technique and things of that nature, but he’ll continue to get better and better each and every day.

One of the things this defense adjusted last season was playing more nickel; is that something you see moving forward?
Collins:
That’s above my pay grade, but I would hope so. I do like nickel with today’s football where you’ve got a lot more spread, but at the same time, that’s above my pay grade.

Do you feel like, though, you have the depth to play those types of packages or even to just rotate more in the base defense?
Collins:
Absolutely. Again, I think the group is a very athletic group and I think that, with the continuing to build their knowledge of the football game, the more they have the ability to play that nickel position. Obviously the nickel is very similar to a linebacker, so you have to have a lot of knowledge and knowing exactly what you’re trying to do and then be able to go out there and get it done.