The New England Patriots returned practice on Wednesday, in anticipation of their Week Thirteen matchup with the Buffalo Bills on Monday, December 6 in Orchard Park, New York.
In doing so, they were graced by a familiar veteran presence that may be able to provide additional defensive assistance for a pivotal matchup with their AFC East division foes.
Linebacker Jamie Collins, having been on injured reserve with an ankle injury since the aftermath of the Pats’ Week Nine victory over the Carolina Panthers, was spotted on the practice fields. As a result, his 21-day roster activation window has now been opened.
Collins joined New England for his third tour of duty in October, following his release by the Detroit Lions. Though he has only taken 59 defensive snaps for the Patriots in his five games-played with the team, the 32-year-old has made the most of his time on the field. Since his return to New England, Collins has compiled six solo tackles (including two, for loss), two quarterback hits, one sack and one interception.
His standout performance for the Pats took place against Carolina in Week Nine. Taking just 16 snaps, the versatile linebacker earned two tackles, including one tackle-for-loss, a pass-defended and one interception. The athleticism and field-savvy shown by Collins on the pick have drawn rave reviews from his teammates, as well as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Within the next three weeks, New England will evaluate Collins’ progress and determine whether he will be activated to their 53-man roster, or revert to season-ending IR if not activated within 21-days. Though the Pats currently have nine active linebackers on their death chart, Collins’ experience and athleticism may prove to be invaluable for a team that is making a strong push for one of the top spots in the AFC.
At his best, Collins is still one of the more dynamic talents in the league. He contributes to the team in numerous ways, including setting a good edge, playing off the ball, on the ball, playing in coverage, rushing the passer and on special teams. The Patriots undoubtedly hope that Collins’ familiarity with their system could help to provide additional stability to the Patriots defense. Should New England active Collins prior to their Monday night matchup with Buffalo, the team would undoubtedly welcome him into a role as an off-ball linebacker, helping to provide explosiveness at the position on third down. As the Pats search for ways in which to keep Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen off balance on Sunday, Collins could see a significant increase of playing time in the middle and on the edge of the Pats defense, if active.
The Patriots and Bills are set for an 8:20pm kickoff on Monday night, December 6, from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.