Elliott “would love” for offensive lineman La’el Collins to join him at Gillette Stadium. Collins is a free agent after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals, but he played six seasons alongside Elliott in Dallas.
The experience has left Elliott talking up a reunion, per Boston.com’s Khari Thompson: “I would love to see LC here. LC is one of my best friends. We’re super close, and it would be great to get him up here.”
Elliott’s timed his recruiting pitch perfectly because the Patriots are already looking Collins’ way, according to Mark Daniels of MassLive.com. Their “interest” makes sense because Collins can play both tackle and guard, so he’d immediately be useful for a Patriots team dealing with more than a few injuries up front.
Former Cowboys, Bengals Starter a Good Fit for Patriots
Collins played left guard and spent time at both tackle spots for the Cowboys. No matter where he lined up, the 6-foot-4, 320-pounder proved adept at clearing running lanes for Elliott.
Despite his size, Collins is often most effective in space, something that helped Elliott more than once. Like for this touchdown against Washington in 2021, which showed how effectively Collins (71) can get around the corner and lead the way.
Power plays like this are still core parts of a Patriots rushing scheme built around the formidable one-two punch of Elliott and Rhamondre Stevenson. Having a mauler like Collins in the lineup would boost the Pats’ ability to punish defenses with smash-mouth football.
Pounding the rock on the ground is only one part of the puzzle, though. The other involves quarterback Mac Jones leading a more expansive passing game under the direction of returning offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.
Jones flashed encouraging signs of improvement in a losing cause against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1. He threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns, but Jones needs sturdier protection in front of him if he’s going to stay on an upward trend.
Collins could provide extra security, although he did allow five sacks and incur eight penalties with the Bengals last season, per Pro Football Focus. The 30-year-old also tore knee ligaments against the Pats in Week 16 and hasn’t played a down since.
Even so, Collins is still worth the risk given his familiarity with Elliott, as well as the Patriots’ obvious need for help in the trenches.
Depleted O-Line a Major Concern
Injuries have already piled up along a beleaguered O-line, with ESPN’s Mike Reiss listing left tackle Trent Brown, along with guards Mike Onwenu, Cole Strange and rookie Sidy Sow on the latest injury report.
Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick will be crossing his fingers the core members of his front-line blockers are healthy soon. Fortunately, a bonus was provided by center David Andrews coming off the injured list after recovering from a hamstring problem, per Daniels.
Adding Collins to the mix would give Belichick and line coach Adrian Klemm a starter-ready veteran able to step in and cover injuries at multiple spots. Elliott, for one, would be happy to see his former teammate again.