Bill Belichick details the under-the-radar contributions from Jamie Collins

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Even in the NFL, where the exceptional is routine, Jamie Collins has a habit of doing something special. In Week 9, for example, he intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage. Collins was rushing the passer but faced a double team from the Carolina Panthers offensive line. So he waited for quarterback Sam Darnold to throw and Collins timed his jump perfectly, somehow catching — not just batting down — the ball. It was a rare play.

But coach Bill Belichick made a point of sharing some of Collins’ other contributions from the game, with the linebacker’s impact extending well beyond that single turnover.

“The interception was a remarkable play, but actually the caused fumble that he had on [Christian] McCaffrey was in the same category where he spun back inside and was able to knock the ball out,” Belichick said Monday after the game.

The forced fumble didn’t get much attention, because the Panthers recovered and advanced the ball. But Collins lined up on the line of scrimmage and held his gap, with tight end Ian Thomas charged with blocking the linebacker. Collins shed Thomas as McCaffrey got to the line of scrimmage, and the linebacker managed to pull the ball loose.

He finished the game with two tackles, one for a loss, a pass deflection, the interception and the forced fumble (which technically didn’t hit the stat sheet, because the Panthers didn’t lose the fumble). While that doesn’t seem like a hugely prolific day, he played just 16 defensive snaps and nine special teams snaps. He was barely on the field — but when he was, he made plays.

“He had a couple of good edge-setting plays and continues to help us in the kicking game with his force on the punts and blocking on the punt protection and on the punt return game,” Belichick said. “He’s really contributing a lot of different ways; setting a good edge, playing off the ball, on the ball, special teams, rushing the passer, playing in coverage, so he’s helped us in a lot of different ways.”

Collins started the season with the Detroit Lions, who released him with hopes of getting playing time for their younger players. That opened the door for a (second) reunion with the Patriots. In Collins’ first game back with New England in 2021, he logged a sack on just one defensive snap. He had an immediate and efficient impact in New England. And that’s just with counting stats. Collins’ teammates and coaches have suggested he’s brought a jolt of energy to the locker room and practice field.

“Jamie’s done a great job of doing whatever we ask him to do, doing it well, and really just helping the team,” Belichick said. “Not just the defense, but the team in any way he can. That includes practice and, as you mentioned, doing things off the field as well.”

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