In years past, the Patriots have been accustomed to trying to round out their receiving depth with older veterans who lacked the speed and effectiveness needed down their depth chart to be effective when called upon.
But earlier this season when they brought in Austin Collie after Josh Boyce struggled early on, Collie has quietly become a nice addition to a group that New England clearly felt needed an injection of youth and speed heading into the final quarter of Tom Brady’s career.
Collie established himself early by making two key receptions in the Patriots come-from-behind win over the Saints back in Week 6, and although he’s only had six catches all season, he’s forced opposing teams to account for him when he has been out there.
Unlike the Dante Stallworth’s and eventually Deion Branch by the end of last season, Collie’s quick and speedy enough to get separation and has been the type of player that can has been able to make a few plays here and there when they’ve needed him. Granted he’s been bounced on and off their roster this year, but when he has been out there he’s been a nice addition for New England this season, and one that should give them another weapon as they get set to start their postseason run this weekend.
Collie’s taken his role in stride and now finds himself about to face off against his former team in what is now one of hopefully several “must win” games. This is time of year where they all matter, and there’s no margin for error since whoever loses goes home. However, Collie’s trying to remain level-headed and he’s trying not to get caught up in any of the hype.
“It’s just another game,” Collie told ESPN Boston. “I can’t afford to get caught up in all of that. I look forward to seeing some of my old teammates and chatting it up with them after the game. But when the ball is kicked off, it’s football. It’s another team we have to beat to continue to advance.”
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Collie’s only played in 114 snaps this season, but overall he’s been targeted 11 times with six grabs, including 2 on third down, both of which were conversions.
He’s not a big part of the offense, but as we’ve seen every little piece has contributed to New England’s success this season. Collie’s fortunately been one of those bright spots, and will hopefully continue to help them during the postseason.