FOXBORO – Jamie Collins was never a guy who was going to lay his soul bare during his first go-round with the Patriots. So it wasn’t surprising that, in our first chance to speak with him since rejoining the team, he was nice enough but all about business.
“Another day on the job,” Collins said when asked about being back in familiar surroundings. “Just get out here and do what I get paid to do and that’s play football and do it to the best of my ability.”
Wearing a navy blue practice jersey No. 8 with a red hoodie underneath, Collins is back with the team that traded him away in October of 2016.
The main reason he was dealt was the team and Collins weren’t heading toward a contract extension. The Patriots got something back for him before he left in free agency. But in the short-term, Collins also hadn’t been playing well.
Asked if there was any strained feeling with the team as he returns, Collins batted the notion aside.
“I mean, it was just a change of destination, man,” he said. “I’m a professional and just have to be professional about the business. Business is business. You can’t get upset or do this or do that. I just tried to pick up where I left and move on. Take it to the next space no matter where it’s at.”
Was it an easy choice?
“It’s not just about me, man,” he replied. “I’ve got a family. I’ve got a wife and kids. I’ve always got to think about them as well. I can’t just make decisions based on myself."
There’s not much to be gleaned from an OTA practice even when the offense and defense are scrimmaging 11-on-11. There’s no forceful contact on blocks, there’s no touching the running backs and the defensive backs normally yield and don’t challenge receivers too actively. What you can gauge are things like speed and interactions.
Collins’ ability to cover massive amounts of land in a short period of time remains intact. There was one “blitz” situation when the Patriots sent probably six rushers in 11-on-11. Collins, coming from the second level, ducked through the offensive line and just materialized next to Brian Hoyer. It was confirmation of the explosiveness.
Reunited with Dont’a Hightower and now playing under inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, Collins brightened when asked about both men.
“It’s cool. It’s pretty cool. That’s like my big bro,” Collins said of Hightower. “It’s bigger than football.”
As for Mayo?
“It’s even more fun with that guy being our coach,” he said. “Like I said, it’s all business. You still got to do your job. You still got to handle your business and do it to the best of your ability. You can’t just be out here, ‘oh, it’s my boy, it’s my boy.’ We still got a job. Each and everyone has a job, so we all got to be professional and then we can handle our business later.”
Collins spent more than two months as a free agent after the Browns released him on March 6 to dodge his large salary cap hit. He re-signed with the Patriots for a $1.05M salary and just $250K guaranteed. He can make as much as $5M if hits every incentive.
“I started here,” he said when asked if familiarity played a role. “I had the opportunity to come out and start my career here. Obviously yes, that played a big factor. Like I said, whatever the opportunity is, presents itself, it’s not just me. I’ve got other people to think about. It’s a team thing.”
Collins wasn’t delving deep into his Cleveland experience except to say that what he learned was, “To do my job. Never put my head down. Don’t stop. Just keep going. It’s a business, man. I can’t fold. I can’t give up. It’s not just about me. I can’t give up. I’ve got to keep pushing no matter what.”
As for looking back at Halloween, 2016?
“No, man. It happened. I don’t live in the past. I keep pushing to do my thing and keep going.”
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