FOXBORO, Mass. — When the Patriots in early October brought back Jamie Collins for a fourth tour of duty, many viewed the move as a referendum on New England’s linebacking corps and an indication the veteran could see decent playing time.
Well, Collins has appeared in just one game since re-signing with the Patriots on Oct. 3, playing 22 defensive snaps as a practice-squad elevation in the Week 7 home loss to the Chicago Bears. Before and ever since then, the 33-year-old has been on New England’s practice squad and inactive on gamedays.
Yet Collins has managed to thoroughly impress his head coach over the last two months. During a Tuesday morning news conference, Bill Belichick was effusive in his praise of Collins, who underwent surgery to treat an unspecified injury during the offseason.
“Jamie’s really been great,” Belichick said. “After his offseason, kind of rehabbing and all that, and then coming in and getting back into it. He’s worked himself into good shape. He’s been a really positive guy for the younger players, for our team. The things he does for us on the field, the scout team and all that. He’s ready at multiple positions whenever we need him.
“He works hard and prepares well. Glad he’s here. Honestly, he’s been great. It’s great to have him.”
Collins’ days as an impactful NFL linebacker probably are over. But it’s clear his athleticism, versatility and knowledge of New England’s defense still are valued by Belichick and other members of the Patriots coaching staff.
New England on Tuesday made a newsworthy move involving a linebacker on the 53-man roster. The Patriots agreed to a two-year contract extension with underrated veteran Jahlani Tavai, as confirmed by Belichick.
The Patriots will host the Buffalo Bills on Thursday night in a pivotal AFC East matchup.