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Jamie Collins has Patriots teammates expecting big things

New England second-year linebacker Jamie Collins faces high expectations in his sophomore season, including those of his teammates.

A year ago second-round pick Jamie Collins eased his way into the Patriots lineup.

He didn't record his first tackle until Week 3. He continued to see reserve action until his first career start in Week 7 in New York against the Jets, which happened to also be New England's first game without injured Pro Bowl linebacker Jerod Mayo.


Collins went on to start eight of the 16 games he played as a rookie, notching 38 tackles, three QB hits and three passes defensed in regular season action. Solid but unspectacular production.

It was during one of his two postseason starts that Collins really put himself on the New England defensive map and created high expectations for the athletic youngster's future.

In the Patriots dismantling of Andrew Luck and the Colts last January, Collins had six tackles, a sack, three quarterback hits and an interception. He displayed his abilities all over the field, including impressive coverage of Indy tight end Coby Fleener.

Now, with the departure of Brandon Spikes, Collins is penciled in as a full-time starter at outside linebacker in New England. While expectations may not necessarily be for him to replicate the production against the Colts each week, they will certainly be higher than the 11 games he had as a rookie with two or fewer tackles.

While the expectations are high for Collins and his role on the new-look New England defense, so is the potential, at least according to his teammates.

"I think he's going to continue to improve," Rob Ninkovich said of Collins in his second season. "It's all about working and going out there and earning it. So I think he definitely has all the tools to do anything he wants in this league. He just has to go out there and do it."

The New England England conducts an organized team activity on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday, June 12, 2014.

Fellow linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who knows a little bit something about dealing with expectations, doesn't see Collins' ability to maximize his talents as an issue. In fact, he thinks that's another one of the strengths the young linebacker possesses.

"With Jamie I feel like he's blossomed a lot sooner than anybody," Hightower said. "I feel like he was a lot more mature in his first year than some people are in their third year. You couldn't tell that he wasn't a third- or a fourth-year player."

That's continued to be the case this spring.

"He's helping out a lot," Hightower continued. "He's getting the young guys in their watching film and getting everything situated with himself. Like [Jerod] Mayo says, we have old souls so we mature a lot faster."

Collins may have a mature, old soul, but he also has freakish athletic ability and confidence that he can do just about anything on defense. That combination has Hightower believing that No. 91 is more than ready to take advantage of the increased opportunities he should get this fall.

"Oh yeah," Hightower responded quickly and confidently when asked if Collins was ready for the expected expanded role in 2014. "He's always up for a challenge and he's always ready to go. Whatever you ask him to do…if you ask him to go guard a receiver he's more than happy to do it. There is nothing he's not willing to do, nothing he'll back down from."

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