For the second time in roughly 13 months, Jalen Collins stood before reporters at Atlanta Falcons team headquarters in Flowery Branch to address a lengthy suspension linked to performance-enhancing substances.
"I know I've let a lot of people down" Collins said Monday, one day after the NFL announced a 10-game suspension for the Falcons cornerback. "Everyone's really disappointed, including myself.
It's the second consecutive season Collins has been suspended for violating the league's policy. Last season, he was forced to sit out the first four games of the season, and did not see game action until Week 7.
Collins declined to reveal specifically what triggered the violation, only that it's "something that I've been struggling with." He can continue to practice with the team during preseason and play in the Falcons' exhibition games. But once the regular season begins, he will be barred from participating in any team activities until November 21st, one day after the Falcons play the Seahawks on Monday Night Football.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said he and Collins revealed the news to the team together.
"The lesson wasn't just for Jalen," Quinn told reporters Monday. "The lesson really is if you're having an issue or problem, make sure you tell one of your guys."
Quinn said Collins had alerted him before training camp of a potential "issue with the league." He decided to bump the corner down the depth chart to the third-team defense, where Collins had spent most of training camp. If Collins was cleared by the league, Quinn says he had planned to move him back to second on the depth chart.
The Falcons now have a decision to make on their troubled cornerback. Quinn admitted the latest suspension has "broken" the team's trust in Collins, and that there's still a possibility for the team to release him before camp.
"The disappointment for having a second repeat offense is stronger," says Quinn. "We (Quinn and Falcons' GM Thomas Dimitroff) will take all the time we need to make the best decision for the team."
It's likely Collins will see fewer reps for the rest of camp, as the Falcons need to give players like C.J. Goodwin and Deji Olatoye more time to train with the second-team offense. However, Quinn says he wants to see Collins continue to compete in practice, and wants him to focus on repairing the "trust issues" caused by his latest off the field trouble.
"Even though I won't be in the building, it still means a lot for me to be there for my brothers," says Collins."
The Falcons selected Collins in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of LSU. He has 2 interceptions and 12 pass deflections in 27 career games with the team.
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