Patriots vs. Cowboys: Five Players to Watch

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Jamie Collins, LB, Patriots

Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Jamie Collins (91) celebrates during Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A true defensive player of the year candidate, Jamie Collins is growing into one of the premier linebackers in the entire NFL. With a combination of size, speed and natural athleticism that is essentially unrivaled for defensive players in the NFL, Collins has become a huge weapon for the Patriots’ defense.

He is a true threat to rush the passer, is solid against the run and one of the best coverage linebackers in the entire league. Collins’ abilities are going to need to be showcased by the Patriots on Sunday if the defense is going to be successful.

First of all, the Cowboys have what is likely the best offensive line in the entire NFL. If the Patriots expect to get any sort of consistent pass rush, they are going to have to use a creative blitz package, and a lot of the time, that is going to include Collins.

Also, while defending the run is more of the responsibility of fellow linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo, Collins will have to pitch in as well against this loaded offensive front.

Perhaps most importantly, Collins will have to play strong pass defense against tight end Jason Witten, who may be the Cowboys’ biggest offensive weapon right now. A true jack-of-all-trades, Collins is an important player for the Patriots on Sunday.

Next: A Returning Defensive Force