Houston Texans defensive tackle Maliek Collins is sporting a new jersey number for 2022.
The former Dallas Cowboys 2016 third-round pick has gone back to his jersey number from his days with the NFC East club. Collins will be wearing No. 96 for the first time since 2019, and it took some persuasion from incoming defensive end Mario Addison for him to make the switch.
“He wanted it (worse) than me,” Collins told reporters Tuesday after organized team activities at Houston Methodist Training Center. “He sent a wire. I got more sacks in 96 than 97, so I feel like it’s a little bit of luck being back in my old number. Thought it’d be better for me. ”
Collins generated 14.5 sacks wearing No. 96 from 2016-19, including a career-high 5.0 as a rookie.
Perhaps more so than what jersey number he wore, Collins played in a Tampa 2 scheme in Dallas similar to what the Texans are deploying. The defensive coordinator at the time was Rod Marinelli, who was coach Lovie Smith’s defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears from 2010-12.
Collins produced 2.5 sacks through 15 games with Houston as he returned to a familiar scheme, and it was the sense of greatness that attracted him back to the Texans.
“I think we’re building something special here and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Collins.
The 27-year-old also established his roots in Texas. The only time Collins played pro football outside of the Lone Star State was in 2020 when he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, where Marinelli had been hired as defensive line coach under coach Jon Gruden.
Said Collins on why he signed with the Texans: “Family. My kids are here. I mean, it’s just I love the atmosphere. It’s a great place for me and my family. ”
The Texans are hopeful Collins can have another big year in No. 96 while living the dream in Texas.