Bolden, young Patriots RB's stay prepared


Bolden, young Patriots RB's stay prepared

FOXBORO -- Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley combined for 243 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills.

But as everybody in New England knows, that doesn't necessarily mean the Patriots will go back to stressing their ground-attack on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Bolden even went so far as to say that he has to put the "blinders" on this week, entering their Week 5 game.

"It happened. It was in the past. And now we're moving on," said Bolden before Thursday's practice.

It's the way they do business in New England. Only, when Bolden said it on Thursday, it actually sounded like he believed it to be true.

"I have no clue," said Bolden, when asked what his role in this week's game will be. "You never know. We might go in with one game plan and do something differently."

Regardless of how much playing time Bolden gets against the Broncos, he knows he'll have to be ready, either way. It's an aspect of the Patriots' young running back group, that he says is their most important trait.

"We all realize that we are a young group, and I guess we kind of embrace that, as a group," said Bolden. "We all know that we have to pick each other up . . . We try to make each other better. That's pretty much our game plan.

"It's the NFL. You never know what can happen. A guy might go down, you never know. That's why everybody has to be on point. And I think that's what our group is real good at."

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl


Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?