Defensive lineman Maliek Collins puts his body on the line every week for his team. According to Head Coach Lovie Smith, the defense starts up front with Collins at the most important position, the three-technique.
"For Maliek (Collins), he's our three-technique," Smith said. "Everything starts up front at the defensive line. The engine of the defensive line is the three-technique position."
Now in his seventh NFL season and second with the Texans, Collins may be the driving force of the Texans defense but there's another engine driving him.
His son, Khalon Kane Collins.
"My youngest son was born at 24 weeks," Collins said. "He was 1 pound, 8 ounces. Just seeing the fight that he had in him to keep going. That was my rookie year. So, I mean, seeing the fight that he had, I can never fold based on that. Just having that instilled in me, what he instilled in me, which is crazy."
Kane means "warrior," according to Collins. On Sept. 3, 2016, his little warrior came into the world unexpectedly, completely oblivious to his Christmas due date. Collins' son would stay in the NICU for about 3.5 months before coming home.
The birth of his premature son hooked up to an array of monitors and machines was a turning point of sorts. Witnessing his tiny one-pound baby fight so early in his life not only drives the 6-2, 310-pound Collins, it also gives him a sense of gratitude.
"I don't really know how to speak to that from a team aspect," Collins said. "But as for myself, I feel like I was blessed with perspective. Just being able to look on the bright side of things and not always just looking at the dark or whatever we might be going through. I'm always able to look at things and how blessed I am to be in this position or how blessed I am to just be here in this space."
This week, Collins and the defensive line took time to give back to the Houston community during this Thanksgiving week. Collins, Jerry Hughes and members of the Texans defensive line surprised customers at H-E-B with gift cards as they were shopping for Thanksgiving meal items.
"I think we're going through what I would say is a tough season, but it can't limit what we do or how we impact the community," Collins said. "We came together as a D-line and went to H-E-B, and we helped some families out that were Thanksgiving shopping or shopping just to get some food. Everybody came away from that feeling a little bit better. Hopefully that can transpire and build something for this upcoming week."
Collins and the Texans will travel to Miami to face the Dolphins next Sunday. Kickoff is set for noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
Houston Texans DL Maliek Collins, DL Jerry Hughes and members of the Texans Defensive Line surprised customers at H-E-B with gift cards as they were shopping for Thanksgiving meal items.