FOXBOROUGH — On the Patriots' practice field this offseason, it looked like Jamie Collins never left.
Wearing No. 8 instead of his customary 91, Collins was running, jumping and just creating havoc to the point that Tom Brady said he had forgotten what it was like to go against his former teammate and the problems he can present. Yes, Collins, when he's on his game, can affect the best of NFL players.
And Collins did look like he was in his prime during practices in May and June. It was almost as if the 2016 in-season trade to the Browns, and two more seasons in Cleveland, never happened. If you were making a list of Patriots standouts during offseason practices, Collins would definitely be on the short list.
The mind wandered with thoughts of the different spots Collins could play in the Patriots' attacking amoeba defense. He certainly has the potential to be a tantalizing weapon in the scheme and help take the Patriots' defense, which was the heart of the team by the end of the season and keyed the Super Bowl victory over the Rams, to another level.
But then you remembered how it ended for Collins in New England the first time around and forced his trade to the Siberia of the NFL. There were the rumors about Collins freelancing in the scheme, his looming huge payday and, finally, how the Patriots went on to win two more Super Bowls without him — including that very season of the trade.
And then you heard him speak with the media and the words he used. This is not the same Collins that grew up with the Patriots and then was exiled. He's no longer the wet-behind-ears and, frankly, naive young man who arrived in New England from tiny McCall Creek, Miss. No, Collins now has a wife and child. He speaks about the business associated with the NFL — a lot. And it makes you wonder if this second tour of duty will end better than the first.
Collins spoke with the media on May 23rd for about four minutes. During that time he used the word "business"