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O'HARA: Patricia excited to add 'amazing athlete' Collins Sr. to defense

"Amazing" was the word that stood out in head coach Matt Patricia's response to a question about what linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. brings to the Detroit Lions' defense.

Patricia used it twice in his personal scouting report on Collins, and it fits based on what Collins has accomplished in a seven-year career that includes two tours with the New England Patriots.

"Probably one of the most amazing athletes I've ever seen from the standpoint of someone that big, that strong, that powerful," Patricia said Tuesday in a Zoom interview with the media covering the Lions.

"Some of the things he does is amazing from an athletic standpoint."

As defensive coordinator of the Patriots, Patricia had an up-close view of Collins when he entered the NFL in 2013 as a second-round draft pick out of Southern Mississippi.

Collins spent three full seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the Browns midway through 2016. Collins was cut by the Browns after the 2018 season and signed back with the Patriots, where he had perhaps his statistically best season in 2019.

Collins had career highs in interceptions (3), sacks (7) and passes defensed (7), and his 10 tackles for loss were the second most of his career.

He was on the free-agent market again this year and signed a multi-year contract with the Lions on March 25.

Collins spoke enthusiastically of being reunited with Patricia in Detroit after signing in a video interview posted on

"We've got a little history out there," Collins said. "Matty P, he's a cool guy. Me and him can do some fun things – make some great things happen. I'm always looking for a different kind of challenge as well.

"Maybe we can change things around and do big things this year."

The Lions are looking to add production and impact to a defense that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in numerous categories last year. The Lions were tied for last in the league with seven interceptions and tied for next-to-last with 28 sacks.

By his performance last year, Collins did not show any signs that he is slowing down.

"It was a great opportunity for us," Patricia said of signing Collins. "It was something that happened during free agency. I didn't think it would be an option, and it happened.

"I was just excited for us for it to be able to happen."

Collins had an impressive workout at the 2013 Combine. He had a 41.5-inch vertical jump, 11 feet, 7 inches in the standing broad jump, a time of 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash at 250 pounds and 19 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

Patricia watched Collins put those traits to use on the field. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015.

"I've literally watched him stand at the line of scrimmage and try to grab the ball out of the quarterback's hand as he was throwing it," Patricia said. "He just can do those things. Sometimes you run into those type of athletes.

"He's a very versatile player. He has great flexibility --- is a threat in the rush, is a threat in coverage, is very smart, communicates really well.

"He's mature. He has great leadership about him. He's professional. He attacks his job the same every single day. He loves this game. He grinds at it. He works hard.

"To be able to bring a guy like that into our organization, and to allow him to help develop some of the younger players we have, even at the linebacker position, just was a great opportunity for us."

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