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Zaven Collins fine-tuning his craft in Year 2 with the Arizona Cardinals

Second-year pro Zaven Collins is still learning the finer details of playing inside linebacker in the NFL.

One of those responsibilities is making the defensive calls for the first and second levels, regardless if he ends up being the one receiving the play-call from defensive coordinator Vance Joseph through his helmet or not.

Safety Jalen Thompson has been handling most of the green dot duties during training camp going into his fourth season with the Arizona Cardinals.

“It doesn’t really matter to me but it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter if that makes sense because I still have to get the call and make the call. The green dot (helmet with the microphone) is just telling everybody the call,” Collins told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke is Wednesday.

“I’m still setting where the blitz is coming from, where the formation needs to be set. What is our front? What is our coverage? Is it this? Do we need to check out something? All of our audibles for the defense — I still have to do that. The verbiage, I still have to understand it.”

Despite going into his sophomore season in the NFL after being taken No. 16 overall in the 2021 draft out of Tulsa, Collins still has to be able to direct the defensive linemen in front of him, even if it’s the likes of 12-year veteran and three-time Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt.

“I’ll tell him I’d like to have him tighter on this play or don’t do this move and he’s like, ‘OK I got you’ even though he’s a vet,” Collins said. “So it’s nice to have him be understanding and then we’ll come on the sideline and he’ll say this is why he’s doing this. I’m like, ‘OK just tap off on me to let me know and then we’re fine.’

“So it’s nice to have all those things with those guys and the vets be understanding and that’s the mature part about this team being able to get to the sideline, not have our emotions in it, talk about it, come up with something and then go back out and execute it. And that’s the part of being a great defense that you have to have.”

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