Tom E. Curran: Kill all hope early

968555.jpg

Tom E. Curran: Kill all hope early

The Patriots prepare to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, and Tom E. Curran checks in with the keys to a New England victory.

First on the list - The Patriots have to be tough in the red zone. Jacksonville has a number of weapons who can hurt the Pats on a short field. Cecil Shorts is a dangerous receiver and the Patriots should know where he is at all times. When in the red zone, the Pats must force the Jags to walk away with three points instead of seven.

Second, the Patriots need to keep Tom Brady upright. The Jacksonville pass rush will be aggressive and they have nothing to lose. The Jags are a 2-win team with an opportunity to make a statement against a premier opponent. Don't give them that chance, and don't let your franchise QB hit the dirt against a lower-tier opponent.

Finally, the Patriots must kill all hope early. The last thing the Pats need, is a Jacksonville team that has a chance to win it late in the game. The Jags have a number of players auditioning for spots on the 2013 roster so they'll be playing hard and looking to impress. The Patriots need to make sure the game is sealed early.

If the Patriots can do those three things, they should leave Florida with a win.

Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him

patriots-collins-092316.jpg

Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him

FOXBORO -- It's looking more and more like the Patriots will have options at quarterback Sunday against the Bills. Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett threw at practice on Wednesday, and it appears that at least one of them, if not both, will be available for the final game of Tom Brady's suspension. 

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is the likely candidate to jump behind center should the team run into an emergency, but on Wednesday another player threw his hat into the ring. 

"Yeah, I'll play," said linebacker Jamie Collins. "Whatever it is. I don't care what the level is. I don't care what the level is. Whatever it is they need me to do, I'm doing it."

That would be some kind of show.

At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, and with remarkable closing speed, Collins would be an intimidating run-first signal-caller. He's listed at two inches shorter and five pounds heavier than Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, and his NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash time was only 0.05 seconds slower than Newton's. 

Just to take this pie-in-the-sky idea even further, Collins can throw, too. Or he could at one point in time. He played quarterback at Franklin County High in Meadville, Miss. before heading off to Southern Mississippi to play all over the Golden Eagles defense. As a high school senior, he cracked 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Asked if he saw himself back then as a future star in the NFL as a passer, Collins shook his head.

"Nah," he said. "I ain't even see myself as a quarterback in the NFL."

The Patriots would be just fine with Collins sticking at linebacker. He had one of the best games of his career against the Texans last week, racking up 14 tackles and picking off Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler. He also made the calls in the middle of the defense, which is a job that typically falls to Dont'a Hightower, but Collins took over with Hightower out with a knee injury.

"Jamie Collins, he's a beast, man," said safety Duron Harmon after the game. "I tell you what, I've seen a lot of football players play, and he's definitely one of my favorite players to just watch. You just get caught up sometimes seeing all the amazing stuff he does on the field, you just sit in awe. I'm so happy he's on my team, I'll tell you that."

And the team is happy he's at linebacker. But imagine him at quarterback?