FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Jalen Collins was remorseful, but he was also tightlipped about what led to his 10-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Collins took the podium at the Atlanta Falcons' headquarters on Monday, less than 24 hours after a decision came down from the NFL and team. This is the second time Collins violated the policy. He was suspended for four games last season.
A second violation-- especially after the Falcons took a chance drafting him in 2015 despite knowing past issues involving marijuana-- could lead him to getting cut. But head coach Dan Quinn and the Falcons need more time before they can come to a decision on his future with the team. For now, they're putting Collins out in front of his teammates and the media for him to explain as much as he wants.
"I let a lot of people down. Everyone’s really disappointed including myself. This is something I’ve been struggling with, working on it to put it behind me," Collins said.
Collins wouldn't get into specifics other than calling it a "mistake" and that he would take care of things on his end to try and rebuild a trust with the team.
"The disappointment for having a second repeat offense is stronger," Quinn said. "Some trust has been broken. We’ll take all the time we need to make the best decision for the team."
The phrasing by Collins-- saying it's something he struggles with-- could suggest the issue isn't really about enhancing his game, but more of an issue with substance abuse. Collins failed multiple drug tests while at LSU, but the Falcons took a chance on him, drafting him in the second round of the draft.
Quinn said Collins' current issues aren't exactly the same as they were at LSU. He did admit, though, that this could affect their decision making in the future when it comes to taking chances on guys with a history.
"Clearly our decision making is something that needs to be addressed," Quinn said.
When top cornerback Desmond Trufant went down last season with an injury, Collins stepped up and became a regular starter. He had two interceptions and 31 combined tackles last season. He started in Super Bowl LI.
But as training camp began, Collins was regularly working with the third and fourth team defenses. Quinn downplayed the significance at first, saying it was just to get other guys reps. But on Monday, Quinn admitted he wasn't being completely truthful.
"I’m always going to protect the player," Quinn said. "That’s not going to change. I knew there was an issue with the league, I didn’t know if it was going to be resolved."
There won't be a major shakeup in the depth chart. Trufant and Robert Alford are the top corners, and C.J. Goodwin and Deji Olatoye have impressed in camp. Brian Poole also adds depth to the position.
But for a team that preaches Brotherhood, Collins' actions were a breach of that code.
"It’s definitely a player-led team. I don’t know what Jalen did," star receiver Julio Jones said. "We feel bad in that situation for anyone because it is a player-led team. But we got to keep working day in and day out. His thing is he has to deal with it and we have to continue to get better every day."
"The lesson wasn’t just for Jalen," Quinn said. "We’ve got such a strong group of teammates. The lesson really is when you have an issue or a problem, you make sure you tell one of your guys."
Collins can play in preseason games and practice with the team. But it will likely take a lot more than that to be invited back into the Brotherhood.
"Made a mistake, lot a lot of people down," Collins said, "and really trying to move on from it."
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