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Injury Update: Patriots LB Jamie Collins Expected to Play vs Eagles

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The New England Patriots defense is about to receive an injection of athleticism as ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that linebacker Jamie Collins is expected to return to the field against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Collins has missed the past four games with a serious illness that prevented him from eating to maintain weight. He recently returned the practice field and will slide right back into the starting line-up.

The return of Collins has a serious impact on the Patriots defense as linebacker Dont'a Hightower continues to manage a slight knee injury. Hightower's status is not yet known, but Bill Belichick and the New England staff have erred on the side of caution all season and it wouldn't be surprising to see the Alabama graduate receive extra rest this week.

Collins will likely play next to Jonathan Freeny, the free agent acquisition coming off his best game in a Patriots uniform. ESPN's Mike Reiss also noted that the Patriots run defense was in shambles against the Broncos due to incorrect readings by Freeny, which became the linebacker's responsibility upon the injury to Hightower. It's possible that Jerod Mayo could see some time as well.