NFL lockout hits practice squadders hard

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NFL lockout hits practice squadders hard

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

For a practice squad wideout, Darnell Jenkins did all right in 2010. He made 125,000 -- about 37,000 more than the 88,400 that most practice squad guys around the league are making. But the 28-year-old Patriot, who has shuffled through four different practice squads since coming out of the University of Miami in 2008, is itching to get going. With a wife and three young daughters (soon to be 10, 9 and 4), the uncertainty he faces is far different than the players who have spent even a season or two at the end of an active roster. Mr. Jenkins and family are not exactly well-to-do. "It's very difficult," admitted Jenkins. "It's a good thing I'm not a big spender or anything like that.I tell my family all the time, we have to be careful here. But we put some money away . . .
"But budgeting is very important. I make my money through the season. When the season is here, the money is here. With no season, there's no income."Players that spent 34 weeks on an active roster in 2009 and 2010 are entitled to a 60,000 stipend from the lockout fund the NFLPA set aside. The stipend for practice squad players, however, was a fraction of that. But there are programs in place to help players like Jenkins pay their bills. After a few phone calls and conversations with teammates, Jenkins got himself pointed in the right direction and was able to get some assistance to tide his family over. "I pay for my own training and the bills, andI saved up a good amount of money to make it," he explained. "We knew we would go through this problem soI did my best to save. And I'm a homeboy. Every now and then, you'll see me out getting something to eat if my wife doesn't cook, but other than that, I'm in the house playing Xbox."Only Patriots fans who pay attention to the preseason will remember Jenkins. He actually led the Patriots in receiving yards during the 2010 practice games, catching 6 balls for 145 yards and a score. At 5-10, 198 pounds, he's solidly built and he has excellent speed. He's a good prospect and a good man, which explains why teams remain interested in having him on their practice squads, just an injury away from real relevance. During this offseason, Jenkins has been working out in Foxboro at the training organized by Jerod Mayo. He dutifully runs routes for backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, working at all the receiver spots because he needs to be ready if any one of them opens up. It was a different vibe last week when about 25 more Patriots came to town to work at Boston College in workouts organized by Tom Brady."Brady is more of a coach to us younger guys," said Jenkins. "Brady works at a very fast pace and likes to get the feel of Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate and working a lot with them. When we did our camp with Brady, wegot a feeling of what it will be like when we come back from the lockout, but we got a lot of work done with all three quarterbacks (Brady, Hoyer and Jonathan Crompton). Our bond on this team is strong. We have positive leaders and we got a lot of great chemistry."I'm just waiting on the opportunity," said Jenkins. "Me getting older, it makes me just work harder.I feel I'm ready to go and can do anything the team asks me to do. I understand I have to know all the positions because I'm fighting for a spot on the team. I know physically and mentally I'm ready to step in when mynumber is called."Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

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

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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?

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)