For years, Jamie Collins has been a core member of the New England Patriots defense. A former second-round draft pick, he helped win a Super Bowl in his second season and in total has started appeared in 86 games for the organization.
Of those, only one has come in 2022. Collins, after all, is currently not a member of the Patriots’ active roster. Instead, he has been on the practice squad since his return to New England in early October.
Despite his status as little more than a depth option, however, Collins’ impact on the team has been a positive one. Just ask Bill Belichick, who spoke about just that topic earlier this week.
“Jamie’s really been great,” the Patriots’ head coach told reporters on Tuesday. “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, scout team and all that. He’s ready at multiple positions whenever we need him. He works hard and prepares well. I’m glad he’s here. Honestly, he’s been great. It’s been great to have him.”
Collins’ career in the NFL has seen several twists and turns. As mentioned above, he started out as a second-round selection by the Patriots in the 2013 draft and spent three-and-a-half seasons with the club before getting traded to Cleveland midway through the 2016 campaign.
Collins played a starter-level role as a Brown, but never reached the same level of play he regularly showcased back in New England. Accordingly, he returned to the team in 2019 — only to again resume a prominent spot on one of the NFL’s best defenses.
His play that year prompted another team, the Detroit Lions, to sign him to a big-money contract. Once again, Collins did not meet expectations and eventually found his way back to the Patriots.
While his 2021 season with the team was a quiet one, and he saw little action on the free agency market the following spring, the Patriots kept him on speed dial. In October, they brought him back and he has now taken over as an elder statesman of sorts: Collins is the most experienced player in the linebacker room, and as such a valuable asset to have from a leadership perspective.
As Belichick noted on Tuesday, having players like him is quite important for a team — especially one like the Patriots with youth and inexperience sprinkled all over the roster.
“You really want a collection of guys. You want them in each room,” Belichick said. “So, when guys go to an individual meeting room, that there’s leadership present in that room, not sitting in some other room and the walls block it off. You know you want that everywhere. So I think we’re fortunate. We have a lot of players on the team that give that.”
Collins is one of those, and despite being on the practice squad has therefore had a positive impact on the team.