Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/17/13
FOXBORO, Mass. — Jamie Collins had six weeks to adapt. Now, he may need to be thrown into the fire. Collins is the fourth Patriots linebacker to be drafted in the first two rounds since 2008, when the team made Jerod Mayo the No. 10 overall pick. Since then, New England has drafted Brandon Spikes No. 62 overall, Dont’a Hightower No. 25 overall and Collins No. 52 overall. Mayo, Spikes and Hightower all took on starting roles right away with the Patriots. Mayo’s first start came in Week 1 of 2008, Spikes’ in Week 2 of 2010 and Hightower’s in Week 1 of 2012. Collins has played just 52 snaps this season on defense, out of a total 422. With so many talented linebackers in front of him, it was an uphill climb to get reps to start the season. But now that Mayo was placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury, Collins’ snaps should dramatically increase. So far, Collins’ most active game came in Week 3, when he played 18 snaps against the Buccaneers. Since the majority of Collins’ snaps have come in sub packages and on third down, he’s mostly been defending the pass. He has 37 snaps in coverage, 12 against the run and three as a pass rusher, according to Pro Football Focus. It’s undetermined whether Collins will be a starter in the base defense (Dane Fletcher could also get the nod), but he’ll likely at least see his reps increased there. That means he’ll have to get used to life as a run-stopping linebacker. “Yeah, I’m a team guy,” Collins said about playing against the run. “Whatever it is, I’m gonna do it. Whatever it is, they put me in, I’m gonna do it.” Collins has appeared more comfortable against the pass than the run this season. It’s a surprise, however, that he hasn’t been used as an outside rusher more. Collins spent his first season at Southern Miss as a safety, then moved to linebacker as a sophomore and further down to defensive end as a junior and senior. In those two seasons, Collins piled up 16 1/2 sacks. The Patriots’ pass rush has improved this season, but they’re still having trouble finishing and piling up sacks. “I ain’t gonna say I miss it,” Collins said about rushing the passer. “But I’m a team guy. They put me in, whatever the circumstance is, I’m gonna do it, no matter what.” New England has shown more looks in the 3-4 recently with Vince Wilfork out. While Mayo was still in, the alignment in the 3-4 had Rob Ninkovich and Hightower at outside linebacker and Spikes and Mayo on the outside. Hightower will likely shift to the inside and Collins could take his place on the outside. Given Collins’ athleticism and pass-rush abilities, that could be a great move for the rookie. Collins is 6-foot-3, 250 pounds. He ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the combine with a 7.10-second three-cone drill and 4.32-second 20-yard shuttle. His most impressive display was in the explosion drills. He jumped 41 1/2 inches vertically and 11-foot-7 in the broad jump. Since Ninkovich plays to the left side, he’ll likely have to keep containment on Geno Smith and perhaps play more of a linebacker role. Ninkovich will be in Smith’s eye line, so if he’s rushing, the Jets quarterback could easily cut to the outside and scramble. Ninkovich has experience at linebacker, he played the strong-side as a starter in 2011. If Ninkovich is keeping back or staying on the edge, that could mean the other outside linebacker has more pass-rushing responsibilities. Enter Collins. Collins could also help out in containing Smith. He’s the most athletic linebacker on the team, so he could be expected to play in the nickel, as well. Hightower will likely play the majority of snaps at linebacker, with Collins, Spikes and Fletcher sharing the rest. Collins heavily stressed that he’s a team player while speaking with the media on Thursday. Whatever the team asks him to do, he’ll do it to the best of his ability. Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here. Filed under: Doug Kyed, New England Patriots, Top Stories

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lane Kiffin claims to have footage of Nick Saban dancing at karaoke jam

Report: John Elway developing reputation for being coach-killer

Jay-Z takes umbrage to LeBron James anointing himself ‘King of New York’

Report: Kelly reached agreement with Florida, can back out

Broncos officially name Paxton Lynch starting QB for Week 12

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mike Zimmer colorfully praises Case Keenum over gutsy play

Trump calls LaVar Ball a ‘poor man’s version of Don King’

Blake Griffin out partying at 3 a.m. with Kendall Jenner after blowout loss to Knicks

Reggie Jackson's trolling in an NBA of long-tailed narratives

Top storylines for college football's Rivalry Week

Gabby Douglas says she was also abused by Larry Nassar

The '303 yards and a cloud of dust' quiz

Anthony Davis may never escape his biggest flaw

NFL Week 12 predictions

College football Week 13 predictions

The 'Greatest show on flat Earth' quiz

NFL MVP Watch: Carson Wentz stands tall among the pack

Young Maple Leafs maturing their way to the NHL elite

The Eagles are soaring but to what heights?

2017 Week 13 college football players to watch

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Anthony Davis may never escape his biggest flaw

NFL Week 12 predictions

NFL MVP Watch: Carson Wentz stands tall among the pack

The 'Greatest show on flat Earth' quiz

Young Maple Leafs maturing their way to the NHL elite

The Eagles are soaring but to what heights?

2017 Week 13 college football players to watch

The 'Wheelin' and Thielen in Minnesota' quiz

What each NFL team should be grateful for this Thanksgiving

NFL Week 11 injury report

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker