Patriots' defense deficient in 1st game without Collins (The Associated Press)

The Patriots surprised many around the NFL last month when they traded linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns. It created yet another adjustment for a defense that was already dealing with an injury to linebacker Jonathan Freeny and the offseason trade of pass rusher Chandler Jones. By parting ways with Collins, they not only jettisoned what might have been the most athletic player on New England’s roster, but also instantly put a lot more on the shoulders of veteran linebacker Dont’a Hightower, second-year player Trey Flowers and rookie Elandon Roberts.