FOXBOROUGH — Duron Harmon remembers the day teammate Jamie Collins was traded in 2016. It came on Halloween and it was a frightening thought, to say the least.
“For sure. He was a Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro the year before,’’ Harmon said Thursday, a day after the Patriots brought Collins back into the fold. “So, any time that happens, you’re shocked. And I think more so just because it’s your friend. And I think that was probably one of the first real, like, eye-opening experiences where I realized this is a business.’’
The pair arrived in the same draft class (2013) and became “great friends,” said Harmon, which added to his shock.
“He’s here one moment and then the next moment he’s all the way in Cleveland,’’ Harmon said.
Now Collins has come back to New England and Harmon, who said the two have remained close, is excited about the reunion. He expects the linebacker’s reaclimation to be smooth.
“He’s going to come here and do what he [does] and earn a spot wherever it is and play hard and try to help us win football games,’’ said Harmon. “He has athletic ability, knows the defense, he’s excited to be back, so that’s always good when the excitement is there. I’m really just looking forward to seeing him out there, seeing him play with us again, building that chemistry, being teammates again, and doing everything we can to make sure we’ve got the best defense we can, come the first game.’’
Dante Scarnecchia heaped praised on left guard Joe Thuney last season when the offensive line coach was asked about left tackle Trent Brown’s seemingly seamless transition to New England.
Scarnecchia’s said Thuney’s steady hand and communication skills were big reasons Brown excelled on a new team and at a new position.
This season, Thuney will work with his third left tackle in three seasons and was asked if he saw himself in a similar mentoring role as last season — especially considering Isaiah Wynn, who missed all of 2018, is a top candidate to get the job.
“As an offensive line you always try and work together, especially the guys next to you and stuff, especially coming into a new system — it’s always tough,’’ Thuney said. “Just trying to work with whoever [is there] and the whole unit and just trying to get everyone up to speed. It’s all about communication and everyone seeing the game through the same set of eyes. So, just trying to get everyone on the same page is really important.’’
Thuney, who played every offensive snap last season, is in the final year of his rookie deal and locking him up the way the team did right guard Shaq Mason last season would be a prudent idea. Asked about a new deal, Thuney sounded like a man who’d be open to it but added that he’s happy to have an agent work on that side of the business.
“I’m just focused on what I control and I’m just focused on being here,’’ he said. “I love it here, it’s great. The organization’s been awesome, teammates have been awesome. So, absolutely no complaints from me.’’
For reference, Mason’s deal was for five years and $45 million with $23.5 million guaranteed.
As for his ability to stay healthy — he’s never missed a game — Thuney credits the Patriots’ staff.
“Our strength staff does a great job of conditioning us, trying to prepare us for the season, you know, it’s a long season,’’ he said. “You have to stay on top of your body and just try to be out there for the team.’’
Though the Patriots haven’t named a defensive coordinator, Harmon believes too much is made out of who calls the plays, especially considering Bill Belichick is around. “I mean, Coach Belichick, he’s Coach Belichick,’’ said Harmon with a laugh. “If he’s calling plays, I think we’re going to be fine. This man called the plays for the Giants and won two Super Bowls. If he’s calling the plays, we’ll be all right.’ . . . The Patriots’ deep running back group might be getting an added boost as Tom Brady posted an Instagram video of his resistance band treadmill workout Thursday with the caption “TB2K” . . . Devin and Jason McCourty will deliver a co-commencement speech at their alma mater, Rutgers, on Sunday. “Those guys get it, man,’’ said Harmon, a fellow Scarlet Knight. “Dev and Jay, they’re tremendous human beings. I told them, ‘If you just speak from your heart, you’ll be good.’ ’’ . . . To make room for Collins, the Patriots released defensive tackle Frank Herron, who spent most of 2018 on the practice squad.
Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride