Jamie Collins makes impact in return for Patriots
Linebacker leaves mark on the field
FOXBOROUGH – Jamie Collins returned to the Patriots lineup for Sunday’s 35-28 loss to the Eagles and looked pretty much like Jamie Collins.
The linebacker, who missed the last four games and nearly three weeks of practice with an illness he labeled last week as a bad stomach bug, didn’t play every defensive snap as he usually does, taking several series off.
Despite that, he could be found where he usually can be found — at the top of the Patriots defensive statistics with eight combined tackles, a quarterback hit, and a pass defensed.
He also added a forced fumble — his team-high fourth of the season — on Philadelphia’s next-to-last drive that New England recovered, putting it in position for a potential game-tying drive that fizzled.
Amendola back, too
Danny Amendola also returned after missing last week’s loss in Denver with a sprained knee. He finished with seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
He also recorded his first career completion, a 36-yarder to Tom Brady in third quarter.
Amendola said he has no doubts that his teammates will bounce back from Sunday’s loss.
“Regardless of what people outside this building say, we have a tight-knit group here,’’ he said. “We’ll go back to work on this and try to get them next week.’’
The receiver took little solace in the hard charge the Patriots made in the fourth quarter to get back in the game.
“We lost the game, so there’s nothing real positive there,’’ he said.
White’s best day
Lost in the loss was a career day from running back James White, who collected 10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. It was his first-career 100-yard receiving effort.
He entered the game with 17 career receptions for 118 yards. His 115 yards against the Eagles was the fourth-highest total for a running back in franchise history and the second-highest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, trailing only Shane Vereen’s 153 against the Browns in 2013.
“He did a great job,” Brady said. “He really came up big for us when we needed it a few times on fourth down tonight, made some big plays in the pass-game, was good in protection. He’s done a great job for us. He’s got a significant role. We’ll need him all the way down the stretch here.”
A drop to remember
Brandon LaFell had a costly drop on the Patriots final drive toward a potential game-tying touchdown, and the wide receiver said the memory will stick with him.
“Definitely, man,’’ he said. “I just took my eyes off the ball at the last minute looking up field. That’s one of those plays that I’ve got to come down with. We get that play, we’re still on the field, we’re still moving the ball, we’ve got a chance to go down there and tie the game.’’
Kraft on Gronk
Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft was asked about the team making the rare move of issuing a statement about Rob Gronkowski’s knee injury, and he quickly rejected any notion that there was friction between the tight end and the team.
“I think before the [Broncos] game was over, according to [public relations director] Stacy [James], people were saying he was gone for the year,” Kraft said during his pregame radio appearance. “Twenty-four hours later they were saying he’d be back for this game.
“Everybody is important on this team, but there are a couple of players where the interest rises to an extreme level. We felt putting out a statement ended the mindless speculation on either side.’’
Pressed if it was a unanimous decision in the organization, Kraft said yes.
“Everybody in the organization was completely on board,’’ he said. “I don’t know if Bill [Belichick] likes talking about it, which is a separate issue.’’
He also said: “There’s never been any friction between Rob and the team. . . . He’s been the quintessential Patriot since he’s been here.’’
Odds and ends
Brady surpassed Dan Marino and moved into third place on the NFL’s all-time list with 421 touchdown passes with his 4-yarder to White in the second quarter. He finished with three TDs on the day and stands at 423 . . . Brady fell to 40-9 after a loss . . . Special teams ace Matthew Slater left after suffering a stinger on a first-half special teams tackle. He returned in the second half . . . Jerod Mayo’s sack of Sam Bradford kept the Patriots streak of having at least one sack in every game this season alive . . . The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will host its annual holiday party at Gillette Stadium Tuesday. More than 250 needy children from Salvation Army and other community centers will enjoy food, games, presents, and a visit from Santa Claus. In addition, Patriots players, cheerleaders, and Pat Patriot will be on hand . . . Patriots safety Patrick Chung will host his second Open Mic Karaoke fund-raiser Monday at Howl at the Moon at Patriot Place. The event supports Chung Changing Lives, which was established to support the personal and academic development of children. Chung is expected to be joined by many teammates, including Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, and LaFell.