With Rodgers in question, Pats prep for two QBs


With Rodgers in question, Pats prep for two QBs

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- It's looking more and more like Matt Flynn will be Green Bay's starting quarterback on Sunday night against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday that they weren't close to the final stage in the concussion-clearing process, which is for Rodgers to practice with the team. He said there's only a "slim" chance Rodgers could return to practice on Friday, and he will make his decision on a starter Saturday. With the uncertainty as to who will be under center for Green Bay, the Patriots are preparing for both Rodgers and his backup, Matt Flynn.

"You go into this game, and you've just got to be prepared for whoever's going to be in there," said Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. "Just checking out their offense, seeing what they do, and being ready for whoever's out there.

"It's a little bit different, because he's not like Rodgers," added Ninkovich. "He's got the ability to throw the ball anywhere on the field, and can run. So you go look at some tape that Flynn's been in, and just see some of the things that he's done. Because he can still throw the ball pretty well. He's got a good arm, so you just have to see what kind of stuff he was doing in the preseason, and the games that he's played in."

Flynn has thrown for 182 yards with no touchdown passes, and has been picked off once so far this season. He saw over two quarters of playing time last Sunday, after Rodgers went down with his second concussion of the season, late in the first half. In those two-plus quarters, Flynn went 15-for-26 and threw for 177 yards while being intercepted once.

Long story short, he's no Rodgers.

"It's not really difficult," said Patriots safety Jarrad Page. "Of course, Rodgers is one of the better quarterbacks in this league. So you prepare for him. Their styles are not too different. Of course, Rodgers is Rodgers, and you know, Flynn is not him."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

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?