METAIRIE, La. — Jed Collins was torn Sunday.
He wanted to dance but knew he couldn’t, not with the Saints still trailing San Francisco in a critical NFC game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Instead, he stood tall, briefly staring into the stands, taking in the moment.
“I was cut 13 times,” Collins said. “I’ve been on eight different teams. (To) tell me that I was going to have my name called to come out in the Superdome or score a touchdown in the NFL, (those) are dreams I never thought I’d get to accomplish.
“Every time I get to do it I really try to embrace it and enjoy the moment.”
Collins’ moments have been few and far between in 27 games with the Saints. He has only two rushing touchdowns and five receiving. But when he gets the ball, he’s likely to score – he has seven career touchdowns on 23 career touches.
He’s cognizant of the fact that he’s not the Saints’ first scoring option, saying he’s more like the “11th or 12th option in our system.” Instead, his role could be likened to that of an enforcer in hockey.
When he’s in the game, it’s going to get physical.
“That’s the kind of player I am,” Collins said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”
Collins is a throwback to a bygone era, one in which the fullback was an integral part of any offense. In spite of New Orleans running a pass-happy offense, Collins has found niche inside of it.
Those around him have taken notice.
“He loves the noise, he loves to get in there and make contact,” Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael said. “I think he takes some pride in that.”
Added Saints tackle Zach Strief, “He certainly embraces that role. I think it’s obvious from the way plays, that he feels that his role is to come in and be physical and he does that very well for us.”
And that’s something he never thought he’d find after fighting for years to get into the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Washington State in 2008.
“My wife and I kind of take a moment at least once a week and kind of sit back and smile and just enjoy how comfortable we’ve gotten,” Collins said. “Not complacent but we have made New Orleans home and that’s something I never thought I was going to get to be able to do.”
Collins has built a steady following on Twitter, becoming a sort of cult hero for his often-times thought-provoking tweets.
Make no mistake, though. His reputation and following has as much to do with his style of play on the field as anything else.
Inside the Saints’ locker room, he’s as well-liked as anyone. But maybe no more so than by the offensive linemen, who feel a connection with him.
When Collins bounced to his feet after tumbling into the end zone against the 49ers, tackle Will Robinson was the first to meet him, to celebrate the score.
“That’s as close to a lineman scoring as we’re going to get,” Strief said. “He does kind of like a thankless job and I think we identify with that as linemen. Jed runs full speed into other grown men. It’s a big impact and there’s not a lot of praise involved in it.”
Whatever his role is, Collins isn’t going to care. After three years of constant moving and what-ifs, he’s an integral part of an NFL roster.
“Again, in our system with our weapons, our tools, I think I have a great role and I’m happy in it,” Collins said. “Anything I can get, I’m just happy. I’m happy to be here and keep playing.”